Could Daylight Saving Time Increase Heart Attack Risk?

Although daylight saving time might seem like an excellent way to save energy, no study has demonstrated any clear outcomes. Actually, it has more adverse effects than advantages. Recent research works have underlined that clock changes elevate the risk of heart attacks. Minor sleep deprivation induced by this time shift results in circadian misalignment, which increases the heart attack risks by nearly 30%.

Could Daylight Saving Time Increase Heart Attack Risk?

Clock Change Causes Heart Attacks

A recent paper1 written by the Universities of Ferrara and Florence in Italy cautioned about the risk of the biannual clock change, specifically during the first week of the time change. The paper reported that the tiredness caused by time change might seem like a small problem for most individuals, but for others, it can lead to more serious effects.

Studies have emphasized the connection between sleep deprivation and heart attacks. Sleeping less than six hours is linked with diabetes, obesity, premature death, and blood pressure. Interrupted sleep results in consuming more calories but burning fewer calories. Furthermore, insulin resistance can be increased by just one sleepless night.

The study examined existing heart attacks and daylight saving time literature and identified that most heart attacks happen on the Monday following the time change. The first day of the week is also a crucial one for Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome,” a condition in which the heart muscle experiences a temporary and sudden weakness, caused as a result of increased blood pressure, emotional stress, and higher levels of catecholamine, the fight-or-flight hormones.

What is the Reason?

A longer day is preferred by human bodies than a shorter one. The study indicated that traveling various time zones was the cause for the worst possible jet lag. The same pattern has been linked to daylight time change transitions.

The human body’s circadian rhythm influences the sense of day and night, time to sleep, eat, and so on. The same rhythm aids in controlling the metabolism to body organs, including the heart. The variation in time leads to an imbalance in the body clock, particularly in sensitive people. Just by losing sleep for an hour, blood pressure, stress levels, heart rate, and also chemicals promoting inflammation might get increased.

Other Consequences of Daylight Saving Time

In another study2 presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, from April 15th to 21st, 2016, it was discovered that there is an 8% increase in ischemic stroke cases in the first two days of daylight clock change when compared to the two weeks before and after the time change.

Research3 by the Universities of Washington and Virginia underlined that the legal sentences given out in courts on the Monday after the daylight saving time switch were 5% longer when compared to the preceding and the following Monday. This demonstrated that the time switch had an impact on their sleep, making the judges less dynamic.

This was backed by a study4 reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggesting that this time switch endorses productivity-draining efforts, called cyberloafing (surfing the net, checking personal emails on work time). It was the same case for undergraduate students who were found to be involved in cyberloafing 8.4 minutes more than normal after time switch.

Even though all these results have been observational, they strongly signify that daylight saving time is resulting in more disadvantages than advantages. The study emphasized that just one day (Sunday) is not enough for individuals to get familiar with the time switch, making it harder on them for the rest of the week.

References

1. Manfredini, R., Fabbian, F., Cappadona, R. et al. Intern Emerg Med (2018) 13: 641. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11739-018-1900-4

2. American Academy of Neurology (AAN). “Does daylight saving time increase risk of stroke?” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229220653.htm

3. Cho, K., Barnes, C. M., & Guanara, C. L. (2017). Sleepy Punishers Are Harsh Punishers: Daylight Saving Time and Legal Sentences. Psychological Science, 28(2), 242–247. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616678437

4. Wagner, D. T., Barnes, C. M., Lim, V. K. G., & Ferris, D. L. (2012). Lost sleep and cyberloafing: Evidence from the laboratory and a daylight saving time quasi-experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(5), 1068-1076 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027557.

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Last updated: Jun 7, 2019 at 5:25 AM

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