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Is Your Body Feeling the Effects of Daylight Saving Time?

You participate in it each and every year, whether you want to or not. You walk around the house and change all of your clocks, grumble when your alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside, then cycle yawns and stretches throughout the next few days as your body struggles to adjust. The daylight saving time ritual may seem harmless, but doctors say gaining an hour of evening light could be seriously detrimental to your health.

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Each year on the Monday after clocks around the country are changed, hospitals experience a 24 percent spike in heart attack visits. So if you feel a little off around daylight saving time each spring, it’s not your imagination. It turns out that losing even one hour of sleep can knock your body out of whack. Upsetting your circadian rhythm can result in higher blood pressure, dysregulation of hunger hormones and blood sugar and an increase in the expression of genes associated with inflammation, diabetes, cancer risk, stress and more.

The surge in heart attack visits around daylight saving time isn’t just a coincidence. When it comes around again in the fall, doctors see a 21 percent drop in heart attack visits, as the time change is more generous, giving you an extra hour of snooze time.

The practice of moving the clocks ahead one hour in the spring and back one hour in the fall started during World War I to help save energy. Today, it’s no longer effective, and it’s associated with serious health dangers. In addition to the spike in heart attacks, researchers have also noticed a significant increase in the number of car accidents and workplace injuries in the days after the spring time change.

If you’re in Hawaii or Arizona, you get a pass on daylight saving time. If you’re elsewhere in the country, be careful not to skimp on sleep this week. Other ways to help your body adjust include optimizing your Vitamin D level, eating a healthy diet, managing your stress levels and practicing good sleep hygiene.

To encourage your legislature to change daylight saving time, consider signing a petition to your congresspersonstweeting your concern or getting involved in your state to pass a resolution.

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