We all look forward to Daylight Savings Time, the time when we can finally set our clocks back and enjoy not stumbling out of work into pitch-black darkness. But Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D of The University of Alabama at Birmingham has revealed that, like all things people generally like to do, DST can kill you. New research has revealed that DST is associated with a ten-percent increase in heart attacks on the Monday and Tuesday following the time change. In October, when we “fall back,” the heart attack risk decreases by ten-percent.
Heart attack risk doesn’t increase the Sunday directly following DST, but this is because people are generally lazy on Sundays. When we have to return to work on Monday morning, forcing ourselves to awaken an hour earlier than normal, our bodies freak out. Young states, “The internal clocks in each cell can prepare it for stress or a stimulus. When time moves forward, cell clocks are anticipating another hour to sleep that they won’t get, and the negative impact of the stress worsens; it has a much more detrimental effect on the body.”
Our immune response is also closely tied to circadian rhythms. In a study involving mice, some were put through a “staged advance” like DST and others were used as a control group. All were given sub-lethal doses of an endotoxin that elicits an immune response. The mice that had been forced change their sleep schedule all died, whereas the other mice survived.
Young recommends that everyone get up 30 minutes early on Saturday and Sunday to help realign their circadian rhythms before Monday morning, but we all know you’re not going to do that.
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