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Time to Spring Ahead

March 8, 2014

Despite the appeal of having “another hour of daylight”, one cannot expect to change the clocks ahead one hour and think their body will not resist…if even for a bit. Research suggests just how difficult it is for many to cope with these time changes:

 

 

  • The time change can have a negative impact on scholastic performance, as with teenagers taking tests during this two-week period, following the time change.

 

  • There is a higher incidence of workplace and occupational accidents, particularly in industries like mining and transportation, for about two to three weeks right around this time.

 

  • When clocks are set ahead an hour, in the spring, automobile accidents go up according to a 1998 study. Sleep deprivation is considered the most likely cause of a 17% increase in automobile accidents on the Monday following the time change. The study found no significant reduction in accidents in the fall when clocks are set back an hour.

 

  • The chance of a heart attack goes up during the first three weekdays after the springtime shift to DST. In this case, the heart attack risk declines in the fall on the Monday after clocks go back and people get an extra hour of sleep. Interestingly, the effects in this area are less on people over the age of 65, who tend to be retired and less tied to a time schedule.

 

  • An Australian study showed an increase in the incidence of male (not sure if females were part of the study) suicides after the DST shift.

 

  • Losing an hour of sleep contributes to sleep debt, which manifests in waking up tired, needing caffeine to get going and nodding off during the day. Some other “subtle” signs include: irritability, depression, inability to focus, inability to multi-task, and anxiety.

 

  • And if your health isn’t enough to make you think twice about it, your wallet might be! Economists have found that sleep-deprived traders typically produce “large negative returns on financial-market indices” in the week after the shift to DST.

 

  • While people often dismiss the time changes as “only an hour,” the research shows that many people never adjust their biological timing for the lost hour of sleep all through the summer and fall. “It’s too early to say whether DST has any serious long-term impact on health,” one researcher said, “but our results indicate that we should consider this seriously.”

 

To combat sleep deprivation:

 

  • Try to establish a consistent time to go to sleep each night.

 

  • 7-8 hours of sleep is what most adults require.

 

  • Sleep in an environment that is completely dark (no nightlights) and void of distracting noises.

 

  • Avoid eating or drinking anything 2 hours before going to bed to avoid being woken up to go to the bathroom and allowing your digestive tract to rest as well.

 

  • Find a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Studies show that a cool room (but not a cold person) is more conducive to sleeping for most people.

 

  • Avoid using electronics in your bedroom.

 

Sleep is one of the many factors along with proper diet, exercise, positive mental attitude, and good spinal health that attributes to good health. This is not an area you can simply ignore and expect to feel good.

 

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