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Daylight Saving Time Ends: Here's How to Fall Back Safely

Daylight Saving Time Ends: Here's How to Fall Back Safely
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By    |   Friday, 03 November 2017 03:04 PM

For most Americans, the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend means an extra hour of sleep as we turn back the clocks one hour and return to standard time.

But for many others, the time shift can wreak havoc on sleep patterns and can cause problems with concentration, memory, fatigue, and worse. In fact, studies show the time change increases the risk for heart attacks, stroke, work accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and depression in the days immediately afterward.

“Although a one-hour time change does not seem like a big effort to overcome, the time difference can set up a series of poor choices with health consequences,” Dr. Robert Oexman, director of The Sleep to Live Institute, tells Newsmax Health.

“The shorter day and the disruption in normal circadian rhythm can lead to increased risk of car accidents, work accidents, decrease cognitive skills, and increase absenteeism from work and school. One study even showed an increase risk of heart attacks the week following DST [time changes].”

Research shows a number of health problems are linked to the semiannual DST ritual:

Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD is a form of depression related to changes in seasons and the diminishing of daylight that coincides with the time change. Symptoms of SAD may include fatigue and moodiness. Hormone or light therapy may help.

Depression: The number of people diagnosed with clinical depression rises 8 percent higher during the month after a time change, according to a Danish study based on about 185,500 people.

Cardiovascular problems: With darkness comes increased exposure to LED streetlights, which emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, the American Medical Association warns.

Stroke: Turning the clock ahead or back one hour during daylight saving time transitions is tied to an increased risk of ischemic stroke, which is the most common form. Finnish researchers found that the incidence of ischemic strokes increased 8 percent in the two days after changing the clock either forward or backward. In findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, the researchers said the risk was highest for people with cancer; followed by those people age 65 and older.

Fatal accidents: Accidents increase in the days following the time shift, which could be due to sleepiness, say researchers in a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Oexman notes, however, that there are steps you can take to cope with the time change at 2 a.m. Sunday. He recommends preparing for the time change by waking up an hour earlier than usual the Saturday before the time change and getting plenty of exercise and sun exposure.

“On the Saturday night of DST go to bed at your normal weekday bed time and wake up at your normal weekday wake time at the new clock time,” he adds. “On Sunday get plenty of sunshine and exercise and again go to bed at your normal, new weekday bed time. For most people it should only take about one day to adjust to the new time zone if you follow this procedure.”

He adds that people with risk factors such as diabetes, high bold pressure, family history of stroke, those who smoke or have high cholesterol should take special care during this period.

Oexman and other experts offer the following additional tips for dealing with the time change:

  • Perform your own light therapy. Buy a small lightbox online and soak up that light and be sure to spend early evenings in full light to keep you awake until after dinner.
  • Run errands in the evening. Go shopping for groceries and clothing, and run errands, in the evening to keep you in a well-lit environment. It will keep you off the couch dozing off to the 5pm news.
  • Keep exercising. Even though the early sunset may mean you can’t go running before dinner, you can still exercise indoors. Join a gym, go walk the mall, or do home workouts to deter you from overeating out of exhaustion or boredom.
  • Schedule a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, such as taking a bath, reading or listening to calm music.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Eliminate bright lights and stimulation of TVs, computers and other electronics before bed.
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol and caffeine before bed.
  • Exercise earlier in the day, not right before bed.
  • Keep the same bedtime and wake time each day, even on weekends.

© 2019 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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The end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend means an extra hour of sleep as we turn back the clocks one hour. But for many Americans, the time shift can wreak havoc on sleep patterns and raise the risk for heart attacks, stroke, accidents, and depression. Here's how to cope.
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Friday, 03 November 2017 03:04 PM
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