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Your 'fall back' could be a boon or a bust

Most of celebrate as fall's daylight savings time adjustment yields an extra hour of glorious sleep. And, while this can make us take heart—literally, science is finding—these twice-yearly clock adjustments have an impact on health.


Most of celebrated as Nov. 2's daylight savings time adjustment yielded an extra hour of glorious sleep. And, while this can make us take heart—literally, science is finding—these twice-yearly clock adjustments have an impact on health. Not to make you lose sleep…

First, the relaxing news: On Oct. 30, The New England Journal of Medicine published a letter by Imre Janszky, M.D., Ph.D., of Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, and Rickard Ljung, M.D., Ph.D., of Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare, which describes the cardio-protective effects of the annual "fall back" practice of turning clocks back an hour. Using 20 years of data from 1987 to 2006 collected by the Swedish registry of acute myocardial infarction, the pair found a 5 percent decrease in heart attack risk for the Monday following the time change. In contrast, they also found that the time to lose sleep over losing sleep is in the spring. Data collected by the same registry found an increased risk of heart attack for the first three days following the "spring forward." This analysis included the 15 years out of those 20 in which Easter Sunday was not the transition day.

Contemplate these facts on Sunday, while your heart is feeling extra good:

  • Researchers have found a significant increase in traffic-accident risk on the Sunday following daylight-saving time, according to CNN.com Health. Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities researchers conducted the 2003 study.
  • Also, be extra wary when walking. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found pedestrian fatalities leap a staggering 186 percent in the three weeks following the time change. The 2007 preliminary study analyzed data collected from 1999 to 2005.

What to do? The National Sleep Foundation recommends combating the earlier fall light by ensuring a dark sleeping area. Going to bed a few minutes later each day for a few nights before the change can also help ease the transition. Ultimately, though, the NSF says erasing sleep debt with the extra hour of sleep is the best course of action.

If you have children, wake them up 15 minutes earlier for a few mornings before the time change, reports CNN.com Health. This will minimize disruptions to your own sleep schedule by preventing their hour-earlier pouncing on your bed.

Not a bad idea for the already sleep-deprived.

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