4 Surprising Risks of Daylight Savings Time
Springing forward may be bad for your health
“Springing forward” and “falling back” are both mixed bags. Some people love to “fall back” in the autumn and gain an extra hour of sleep, though it means dealing with less afternoon daylight. Turning the clock ahead an hour for the start of daylight savings time in the spring means it’s light well into the p.m. hours — but we have to get used to getting up earlier.
As it turns out, adjusting to the change may be more than an inconvenience — it may mean more strokes, accidents and other problems.
Motor vehicle accidents increase during time changes, both in the spring and the fall, experts say. In one study, researchers collected data from 21 years of fatal auto accident records and found accidents rose on the Monday after clocks were turned ahead. After clocks were turned back, accidents increased on Sunday, the next day.
Researchers speculate being sleep deprived during the spring shift may make people more accident-prone behind the wheel. During the fall shift, people may simply drive more since they gain an hour on what is for most workers a day off.
Related: 7 Fall Driving Safety Tips
If you work in a hazardous environment, losing an hour of sleep after springing forward may increase your risk of a workplace injury according to a 2009 government study. It looked at data on mining injuries from 1983 through 2006. On average, there were 3.6 more injuries on the Mondays following the switch to daylight saving time compared to other days. No such link was found after the autumn time change.
The risk of stroke increases slightly after a time change, according to a not-yet-published Finnish study. The increase is short-lived, lasting only two days after setting clocks ahead or behind, the researchers say. They found stroke risk rose about 8 percent during the first two days after a time change.
One of the study authors explained to HealthDay that a known link exists between disruptions in the body's circadian rhythms and stroke risk. Other experts speculate that lack of sleep, at least during the spring time change, may affect blood pressure.
Heart attacks also rise slightly in the spring when the time shifts. The attacks decrease in the fall once we return to standard time.
Michigan researchers evaluated a large insurance database looking for changes after four spring and three fall time changes between March 2010 and September 2013. On the Monday after the spring time change, the daily heart attack count increased by 24 percent. In the fall, the count declined by 21 percent on the Tuesday after the change.
Again, sleep deprivation may explain the uptick in the spring. Sleep deprivation may also affect the body's inflammatory response, and inflammation is a risk factor for heart trouble.
Related: 6 Heart Attack Symptoms Women Ignore
Preparing for the change
To ease into a time change you can prepare ahead of time. Several days before the change, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual each night, Cleveland Clinic experts suggest. If you must nap after the time change, keep it short — no more than 20 minutes.
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