• Alison Shmerling, MD

Daylight Savings Time and Your Health

Alison Shmerling, MD, MPH





This past weekend was Daylight Savings Time (DST), meaning we “sprung forward” our

clocks and lost an hour of our Sunday. If you’re still feeling the effects of this transition, you’re not alone. The disruption in our circadian rhythms twice per year can have a measurable impact on health.


  • In a 2013 study of over 900 patients published in The American Journal of Cardiology, researchers found that in the week after spring DST, and especially in the day after DST, there was a measurable and significant increase in risk for an Acute Myocardial Infarction, or heart attack.(1)


  • In 2001, a study published in Sleep Medicine found that there was 6% increase in fatal car accidents the Monday after DST. (2)


  • Another study found that stroke risk increased by 8% in the two days after DST.(3)


While Daylight Savings Time itself has not been implicated, shift work represents a stronger form of circadian rhythm disruption. Shift work has been implicated in worsening IBS symptoms in nurses on a rotating shift work schedule (4), and as a potential risk factor for developing psoriasis (5).



But I’m already...
  • Chronically fatigued

  • Have an autoimmune disease

  • Have cardiovascular risk factors


So What Do I Do?

You can try to make this transition more gentle by making the shift in sleep more gradual the week prior and the week after to the time change.

  • Adjust your bedtime/wakeup time by 10-15 minutes each day

  • Keep the elements of your bedtime routine otherwise the same

  • Adjust your mealtimes by a similar amount

  • Avoid bright light (like screens!) in the 1-2 hours before bed

  • Spend time outside early in the daylight hours

  • Use bright light upon waking if you need to wake during dark hours


Overall the effects of DST on health are small, but significant. Talk to your care team or schedule with Aila Health to minimize any other risk factors you might have, including poor sleep habits. Just remember - you get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep this fall!






References

1. Jiddou MR, Pica M, Boura J, Qu L, Franklin BA. Incidence of myocardial infarction with shifts to and from daylight savings time. Am J Cardiol. 2013 Mar 1;111(5):631-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.11.010. Epub 2012 Dec 8. PMID: 23228926.

2. Varughese J, Allen RP. Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: the American experience. Sleep Med. 2001 Jan;2(1):31-36. doi: 10.1016/s1389-9457(00)00032-0. PMID: 11152980.

3. Sipilä JO, Ruuskanen JO, Rautava P, Kytö V. Changes in ischemic stroke occurrence following daylight saving time transitions. Sleep Med. 2016 Nov-Dec;27-28:20-24. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2016.10.009. Epub 2016 Nov 2. PMID: 27938913.

4. Nojkov B, Rubenstein JH, Chey WD, Hoogerwerf WA. The impact of rotating shift work on the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome in nurses. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Apr;105(4):842-7. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.48. Epub 2010 Feb 16. PMID: 20160712; PMCID: PMC2887235.

5. Li WQ, Qureshi AA, Schernhammer ES, Han J. Rotating night-shift work and risk of psoriasis in US women. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Feb;133(2):565-7. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.285. Epub 2012 Aug 30. PMID: 22931920; PMCID: PMC3511636.



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