Daylight saving time begins on Sunday, March 13. While many of us will feel sluggish, sleepy, and somewhat jet lagged as we spring forward
, losing an hour’s sleep, a new study warns that DST can be deadly for some people.
Finnish researchers found that the incidence of ischemic strokes increased 8 percent in the two days after changing the clock either forward or backward.
Ischemic strokes are the most common kind of stroke, accounting for 87 percent of all cases. They’re caused by clots blocking blood flow to the brain.
“Previous studies have shown that disruptions in a person’s circadian rhythm, also called the internal body clock, increase the risk of ischemic stroke, so we wanted to find out if daylight saving time was putting people at risk,” states study author Dr. Jori Ruuskanen, of the University of Turku in Turku, Finland.
Not only did the researchers find that, in general, stroke risk increased by 8 percent following daylight saving time, they discovered that people with cancer were 25 percent more likely to have a stroke and those over the age of 65 were 20 percent more likely to suffer a stroke after the transition.
Dr. Kevin Campbell, a world-renowned cardiologist from Raleigh, N.C., tells Newsmax Health that daylight saving time was created during World War I in order to curb energy use.
“But DST can impact our sleep/wake cycles and can affect how much melatonin we produce,” he says. “We produce this sleep hormone when we are exposed to darkness and it is essential for our brains in order to regulate our circadian rhythms. The change in time can throw this system ‘out of whack’ like jet lag syndrome when we move from one time zone to another.”
In addition to the latest research linking the time change to stroke, Campbell says numerous studies over the years indicate that DST often causes decrease in performance, concentration, memory as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
“In addition, there’s also a spike in heart attacks, work accidents, and motor vehicle accidents in the period following the time change,” he says.
Here are some tips on how to cope. People with risk factors such as diabetes, high bold pressure, family history of stroke, those who smoke or have high cholesterol may want to take special care during this period.
- Expose yourself to as much bright light as possible during waking hours and avoid bright lights at night, which can interfere with sleep.
- Eliminate caffeine or alcohol within two hours of bedtime.
- Exercise during the day before and after DST, which can promote slumber.
- Consider using melatonin supplements to help you get to sleep.
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