Once again, it's time to turn the clocks forward (at 2 a.m. Sunday) for Daylight Saving Time. The yearly change is sure to cause more than a few missed brunch dates, and perhaps some confusion over why the alarm is going off an hour early.
But the hour shift in sleep schedule could also have more serious effects on some people's health, according to experts on circadian rhythms, particularly in people with certain pre-existing health problems.
"Most people don't have much of a problem — they can adjust their body clock quickly. Eventually, after a couple of days, they already can adapt to the new schedule," says Dr. Xiaoyong Yang, an assistant professor of comparative medicine and cellular and molecular physiology at Yale University, who points out that many people routinely recover from slight shifts in their sleep-wake cycles — after staying up late at night to go to party, for instance. "But for some groups of people — people who have depression or a heart problem — there's some research that suggests that [they] have a higher risk of suicide and heart attack."
An Australian study study published in 2008 in Sleep and Biological Rhythms found that men were more likely to commit suicide during the first few weeks of Daylight Saving Time (DST) than at any other time during the year.
Another 2008 study, published by Swedish researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the number of serious heart attacks jumps 6% to 10% on the first three workdays after DST begins.
In other words, people who are already vulnerable to certain health problems may experience more severe effects of their body-clock disruption. Why that's so is still unclear, but Yang theorizes that shifts in biologic rhythms could trigger harmful inflammatory or metabolic changes at the cellular level, which these individuals may be more susceptible to.
Even taking Daylight Saving Time out of the equation, however, some 50 to 70 million Americans aren't getting enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — and there's lots of data to suggest that chronic sleeplessness isn't good for your health. Following is Healthland's guide to some long-term health consequences of lack of sleep.
If you find yourself unable to shake the exhaustion after DST begins, be sure to check out the National Sleep Foundation's tips for increasing your nightly z's.
Next:CancerMore on Time.com: Five New Rules for Good Health
Once again, it’s time to turn the clocks forward (at 2 a.m. Sunday) for Daylight Saving Time. The yearly change is sure to cause more than a few missed brunch dates, and perhaps some confusion over why the alarm is going off an hour early. But the shift in sleep schedule could have more serious effects on some people’s health, according to experts on circadian rhythm, particularly in people with depression or heart disease.