It doesn’t take an expert to tell us that Daylight Saving Time sucks (at least for the first few days until our bodies adjust to getting up earlier). But did you know it’s also bad for your health? According to the National Sleep Foundation’s annual campaign to remind people about the importance and value of sleep, not only does Daylight Saving deprive us of a valuable hour of shut-eye, but it can have some pretty serious effects on your heart and your safety.
The Huffington Post and The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health recently collaborated on a live webcast event titled “Fighting the Clock: How America’s Sleep Deficit is Damaging Longterm Health.” During this discussion, Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and professor and director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, explained how turning our clocks forward significantly increases the risk of fatal car crashes and heart attacks. Yikes.
Czeisler explains what is likely to happen today–the day after springing ahead:
There is a 6-17% increase in motor vehicle crashes on the nation’s highways, including a 17% increase in fatal crashes and alcohol-related fatalities.
He goes on to say that during this upcoming week, there is a 5% increase in heart attacks.
Likewise, during the fall when we add an hour of sleep back, the rate of heart attacks drop by 5%. That is how sensitive our bodies are, he says. Wow, if that can happen just because of one hour of sleep, imagine the long-term effects of being sleep-deprived!
If you’re feeling the effects of the time change today, Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute says we should blow off work and head to the park. OK, not really, but he did say that we should go outside.
Sunlight helps us ‘retrain’ our circadian clock and allows us to get back on the right time [schedule].
That, and try to get to bed a few minutes earlier each night to reset your internal clock.
Meanwhile, take a look at these five tips for a better night’s sleep.