We push our clocks forward on Sunday, March 14, to get an extra hour of sunlight this spring and summer. But the move comes with a potentially deadly cost. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, hospitals report a 24% spike in heart attacks on the Monday after the switch.
According to Business Insider, researchers note that sleepy, post-daylight saving time drivers have more car crashes the next day. DST also triggers more work-related injuries, strokes, and a temporary increase in suicides.
Sleep expert Matthew Walker said our bodies are fragile and susceptible to even one lost hour of sleep. He calls the changing of time twice annually a "global experiment" we perform to show how our bodies respond. In the fall, it is a blessing but, in the spring, it is a curse, according to Business Insider.
Dr. Peter Martone, one of the leading experts on sleep in America and the founder of Atlantis Wellness, has helped over a hundred thousand patients learn how to sleep well through the night. He says that the lost hour caused by switching to daylight saving time wreaks havoc on our bodies and is probably even more dangerous than the study suggests.
"The study does not explain why the increased risk to our health occurs, so more research needs to be done," Martone tells Newsmax. "In my experience, the reason why even losing an hour of sleep is harmful is that the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rise."
Martone says that the stress of even anticipating the time change can raise the cortisol levels in our bodies that affects both the autonomic and sympathetic nervous systems.
"When a person perceives a threat it affects the heart," he says. "Lack of sleep causes an increased stress load to the heart."
Here is how to prepare for DST according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Start preparing a few days early. Go to sleep 15 to 30 minutes before your usual bedtime so that your body has extra snooze time to make up for that lost hour.
- Stick to your schedule. Keep a consistent exercise, meal, and social routine and expose yourself to bright morning light to get used to the change.
- Avoid taking long naps. While getting some shut eye after lunch is tempting, this can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol before bedtime. These beverages can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
- Take a small dose of melatonin. Dr. Martone recommends two to four milligrams to help you sleep.
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