A new study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham has come to the conclusion that daylight savings time can be dangerous to a person’s health. Their research shows that the Monday and Tuesday following daylight savings time will result in a 10 percent increase in heart attacks. They also said that the exact opposite is true when the clocks are set back an hour in October – heart attacks decrease by 10 percent.
UAB associate Professor Martin Young says that the reason is not known exactly but several theories have been made. “Sleep deprivation, the body’s circadian clock, and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone’s health.”
According to Young being sleep deprived can do a number on the body. For instance sleep deprived people are more likely to be overweight, and have a higher chance of developing heart disease or diabetes. The way a person reacts to sleep deprivation can depend a lot on whether or not they are a day or night person. “Night owls have a much more difficult time springing forward,” said Young.
Everyone’s circadian clock is set to a normal rhythm. When daylight savings time happens the cells in the body expect to have that extra hour that just is not coming. This can have a “detrimental effect on the body.”
Immune cells in the body depend a lot on their clock that is timed to a certain time of the day. Young said that a mouse given LPS, which is an endotoxin that requires immune responses in animals, would have its survival based on the time of day the endotoxin was given. Mice that had their immune systems challenged by an event much like daylight savings time died. Other mice given the endotoxin and not put in the same situation survived. This was to show how this kind of time change can have serious consequences for the immune system.
Young’s advice to help people ease their body into the change is to wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday and Sunday before the change. Have a good-sized breakfast, go out into the sunlight, and exercise in the morning.