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Be Careful “Springing Ahead”

Most of us celebrate Daylight Savings Time as ushering in Spring. It means that we’ll have extra sunlight and the “dark” Winter is behind us.  Even the reminder of how to change the clocks, “Spring Ahead”, is full of optimism and enthusiasm.

But did you know that the loss of that mere one hour of sleep can have an impact on your health and wellness?

Every day we are learning more on the importance of sleep for our physical, mental and emotional well-being. In our too-often sleep-deprived world, losing another hour of sleep has a cumulative impact, decreasing concentration, productivity, as well as actual physical manifestations.

  • Heart Health: A study published in Open Heart, found that on the Monday following the Spring time changes, there was an increase of 24% in daily AMI (acute myocardial infarction). In the Fall, they found a 21% reduction in daily AMI on the Tuesday following the Fall time change.
  • Headaches: University of Maryland Medical Center researchers have found that changes in circadian rhythms (your body’s inner clock) can be a trigger for cluster headaches. The confusion that Daylight Savings Time causes within your body can prompt an onset for those prone to them.
  • Car Accidents: It is common sense that lack of sleep would affect concentration, awareness and coordination, but people may not realize the impact of a small loss of sleep in those areas. There has been shown to be a small increase of road accidents the Monday after the Spring time change.
  • Workplace Accidents: More significantly, the US Department of Labor records show an increase in manual work incidents. Safety precautions should be heightened following Daylight Savings Time. If at all possible, it may be a good idea to postpone more dangerous work, requiring extra precision, to later in the week or even the following week to be safe.
  • Children: We know how cranky a small child who misses their nap can be. Daylight Savings Time can have the same effect. Be extra aware of ensuring that children have enough sleep approaching Daylight Savings Time – and maybe even try to get them to bed a little bit earlier that weekend.

Counterbalancing the Effects

In fact, getting extra sleep leading up to Daylight Savings Time is good advice for anyone of any age.  Although difficult to do, the more we learn, the more we see that we should all be getting more sleep. Maybe Daylight Savings Time can be a good reminder to try and change behavior to do that.

Other healthy habits also are helpful in combatting potential negative effectives of losing an hour of sleep, such as making time for a healthy breakfast. And Daylight Savings Time does mean more daylight hours, so get out and enjoy the sunshine. Sunlight, not to mention the Vitamin D, will help enhance your mood and your overall health.