Clock Change Impacts Heart Health

The clocks change twice a year. It’s a hotly debated topic. Some areas of the country opt-out of the change. A few years ago, California held a vote on whether or not to stop shifting the time. Personal opinions also vary — is it better to get an extra hour of daylight in the evening or wake up in a daylit room? And, of course, for the first week or two after the change, no one is absolutely certain what time it is.

On top of all these problems, the clock change can impact your health. The American Heart Association says that setting the clocks forward an hour this weekend can harm your heart and brain. The Monday after the spring time change is associated with a 24 percent rise in heart attacks. The Tuesday after the fall clock change sees a 21 percent reduction in heart attacks. Strokes also increase by eight percent for the first two days after “springing forward.”

We don’t really know the specific reason for increases in heart disease and stroke during the daylight saving time change, but it likely has something to do with the disruption to the body’s internal clock, or its circadian rhythm,” said American Heart Association President Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones. “If you are already at risk for cardiovascular disease, the time change could be even more risky. It’s important to work on improving your health risk factors all year long, and there are some specific steps you can take to prepare for the impact of ‘springing forward’ each spring.”

Those steps include getting as much daylight as possible before the clocks change. You should also try to get earlier nights leading up to the change, so you don’t “lose” an hour and still get plenty of sleep. You shouldn’t try to replace sleep with caffeine. And you should remember that naps can throw off your sleep schedule if you aren’t a habitual napper.

These healthy lifestyle behaviors won’t only soften the annual biological clock shock, they are proven ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, helping you live a longer, healthier life,” said Dr. Lloyd-Jones.

Our team has mixed feelings about the time change. We love having more daylight in the evenings for being outside and getting more errands done with ease. It’s nice to walk — and drive — in sunlight. But we do miss the sleep, and getting over the change can be difficult, especially at first. Taking these steps can ease you into the new time whether or not you have heart concerns.

It’s always essential to take care of your health as the seasons change. External stressors, like the time change, can play a significant role in well-being. Get an early night for the next couple of nights, get out into the sunshine as much as you can and remember to take it easy as the clocks shift!

Banner image: Insung Yoon via Unsplash

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