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5 Potentially Dangerous Effects Daylight Savings Time Can Have On Your Health

Photo: Unsplash: Léa Dubedout
When Is Daylight Savings Time And What Are The Potential Health Risks?
Self

Watch for these signs.

Every March, most of is living in the United States find ourselves suddenly asking everyone we know in a panic, "When is daylight savings time?" It's understandable that no one wants to miss the chance to finally "Spring forward" an hour again, let alone mess up every appointment on their calendar for at least a week afterward, but in the rush to set your clock ahead one hour, not enough people have also been looking into what possible health risks this annual ritual could potentially kick into gear.

Daylight saving time (DST) 2018 occurs this coming Sunday, March 11, at 2 o'clock in the morning.

The official protocol for the Spring is that "the clock jumps forward from the last instant of 01:59 standard time to 03:00 DST and that day has 23 hours," after which we move into the longer days we tend to associate with summertime.

 

RELATED: The 15 Most Obnoxious Alarm Clocks To Help You Wake Up (Even After The Daylight Savings Time Change)

 

Many of us Americans are becoming more and more united in the opinion that we should join the good people in (most of) Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in ditching the whole thing for good. Just this week, the Florida House of Representatives passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which could mean that "Florida residents will be able to enjoy more evening sunshine in the winter by forgoing setting the clocks back in the fall," and several other states are considering leaving the clocks sprung come November 2018 as well.

Because really, those super short days can be brutal, right?

In addition to just generally being the pits, science has found that daylight saving time has the potential to cause "disruptions in a person's circadian rhythm," the term describing each of our internal body clocks. That might sound like hippie trash, but it's true!

And when our circadian rhythm is thrown for a loop, our physical, mental and emotional health can suffer.

According to Science Daily, "Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle."

Your circadian rhythm is responsible for telling your body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. You need this to be fully operational and to get all those delicious stages of sleep that help keep you bright-eyed, bushy tailed, generally healthy and not dead.

The key to beating back any potential negative effects caused by daylight savings is to make sure you go to bed earlier and get a little extra sleep as a buffer.

If you don't manage to do this, and honestly, even if you do, you should be aware of these five potential health risks of daylight savings time, and don't say I didn't warn you!

1. Sleep deprivation.

Let's start with the most obvious one first. If you don't get enough sleep, you run the risk of becoming sleep deprived. Now, this isn't just something your histrionic co-workers claim to be, it's a legitimately unsafe medical condition.

Miss enough sleep and your brain's ability to function is diminished. As things progress, you could potentially experience mild to dangerous complications, including, but not limited to aching muscles, confusion, memory lapses or loss, depression, development of false memory, hand tremor, headaches, malaise, increased blood pressure, increased stress hormone levels, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of fibromyalgia, irritability, nystagmus (rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement), obesity, and seizures.

Yikes!

 

2. Increased likelihood of stroke.

Now that I've scared the pants off of you, allow me to apologize: you aren't actually going to have a stroke. Probably.

Research recently conducted by a team of scientists in Finland who "compared the rate of stroke in over 3,000 people hospitalized during the week after a daylight saving time transition to the stroke rate in almost 12,000 patients hospitalized either two weeks before or two weeks after that week... [the] results showed that the overall rate of ischemic stroke was 8 percent higher during the first two days after a daylight saving time transition."

On the kind of bright side, however, the team noted that "cancer patients and people over the age of 65 appeared to be at a higher risk of stroke immediately after the time change, with a 25 percent and 20 percent increased risk respectively right after the transition. Older age and cancer are well-known risk factors for stroke."

So if you are under 65 and cancer-free, you'll probably be just fine.

 

RELATED: 5 Ways Daylight Saving Time Actually Makes You SICK

 

3. Increased possibility of miscarriage.

Results of study published last year reveal that women who are trying to conceive via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and who have experienced previous pregnancy loss, are more likely to miscarry if they underwent an embryo transfer procedure within the first 21 days following Daylight Savings.

The press release from Boston Medical Center and IVF New England explained the findings in detail:

"Researchers looked at the pregnancy and miscarriage rates among a sample of patients undergoing IVF prior to and during daylight savings time, in both the fall and spring. The patients were then categorized into three groups based on the timing of their embryo transfer during daylight savings time. An embryo transfer refers to a step in the IVF process in which an embryo is placed into the uterus of a female with the intent of establishing a pregnancy.

The study found that miscarriage rates in IVF patients who had had a prior miscarriage were significantly higher among women whose embryo transfers occurred 21 days after spring DST began, compared to patients whose embryo transfers occurred before or well outside the spring DST window. Successful pregnancy rates did not differ between seasons or among the three groups or among the three groups during the change to standard time in the fall."

 

4. Headaches

If you, like me, dear reader, are prone to getting them, you may already know this, but cluster headaches, i.e., intensely painful headaches lasting for up to 6 weeks at a time, can be triggered by changes in your sleep cycle.

Per WebMD, symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Severe pain behind or around your eye [that] can be more intense than a migraine.
  • Periods of pain. Your headaches happen several times a day for a few weeks or months, which are called "cluster periods."
  • Breaks between attacks. You can go long amounts of time between cluster periods with no headache pain.
  • Headaches around the same time every year. January, February, July, August, fall, and spring are common.
  • Headaches around the same time of day or night.
  • Pain that wakes you up.
  • Extreme alertness during cluster periods.

You might not deliberately change your sleep cycle at this time, but you should certainly be on the lookout for Headache City, population YOU. Some preventative measures you can take include limiting exposure to potential triggers such as alcohol, cigarettes and second-hand smoke, foods with nitrates (including bacon and preserved meats), medications that can widen/dilate blood vessels, daytime naps, and heat (including hot baths or showers).

 

5. Increased potential for heart attacks.

Studies indicate the risk of a heart attacks increases on the day following daylight saving time. As reported by Reuters, "In general, heart attacks historically occur most often on Monday mornings, maybe due to the stress of starting a new work week and inherent changes in our sleep-wake cycle."

Dr. Amneet Sandhu, cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver, states, “With daylight saving time, all of this is compounded by one less hour of sleep.”

"Sandhu," the article explains further "examined about 42,000 hospital admissions in Michigan, and found that an average of 32 patients had heart attacks on any given Monday. But on the Monday immediately after springing the clock forward, there were an average of eight additional heart attacks... The overall number of heart attacks for the full week after daylight saving time didn’t change, just the number on that first Monday."

If you have a pre-existing heart condition, be sure to talk about it with your doctor so you can take any steps necessary to get the right amount of sleep and keep your body's natural rhythms undisturbed.

As with all conditions mentioned above, if you do have questions or concerns, you should always be sure to consult with your own physician.

 

RELATED: Can Turning The Clocks Back Help You "Fall" Back In Love?

 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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