Losing an Hour Can Have Serious Consequences

Premier Health Now
Woman lays in her bed, touching her alarm clock during daylight saving time

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It’s just an hour – a scant 60 minutes – that you lose when your clocks spring forward for daylight saving time. Is it really a big deal? Yes, say researchers who found that the risk of heart attack is actually 24 percent higher on the Monday following daylight saving time.

Premier Health Now asked cardiologist Jacob Gibson, DO, why.

He blames it on circadian rhythm, your body’s natural clock, which gets thrown off when the time changes. The consequences can be serious.

“When you lose an hour of sleep and gain more daylight hours, it can put undue stress on your body at first,” he says. Your brain is very sensitive to light. When there’s a disruption, it has to reorganize itself and that can cause stress. “Increased stress puts a strain on your body. It can disrupt your sleep patterns, elevate adrenaline levels, and cause a surge in hormones,” Dr. Gibson explains.

Studies show the result can be an abnormal heart rhythm and an increase in heart attacks. Some studies also indicate an increase in the risk of stroke.

The clock change may also cause you to eat dinner later than usual, at least at first, notes Dr. Gibson. “Large meals late at night can be a trigger for heart attack,” he says. “Add to that the possibility that more hours of sunlight during the evening may cause you to exercise later than you used to,” he says. “While we encourage exercise, an abrupt change to exerting yourself at nighttime can affect the heart.”

So what’s the solution? Dr. Gibson suggests steps to help you make the clock change easier on your body. In the days leading up to and immediately after springing forward an hour:

  • Avoid abrupt changes in your routine. Instead, make gradual changes to your eating and exercise schedule over several days or a week.
  • Don’t let too much caffeine or cat naps disrupt your body’s rhythm even further.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.