Daylight Savings Time can Kill
A Three-Step Plan to Wakeup
Losing an hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time is inconvenient, but if you don't prepare it could be deadly. According to a study in Sweden, the number of heart attacks increased by 5% during the first week of daylight savings time. It was especially dangerous on Monday, following the time change.
If you're in your 20s and 30s, don't think youth will protect you. In fact, the study revealed that the effect of the time change was, "consistently more pronounced for people under 65 years of age than for those 65 years of age or older."
It's believed the primary cause is lack of sleep. Modern society is chronically sleep-deprived. In the last 100 years, the average person has gone from getting nine hours of slumber a night to seven and a half. When daylight savings time kicks in, we lose another hour. According to the Swedish researchers, that transition, "can disrupt chronobiologic rhythms and influence the duration and quality of sleep, and the effect lasts for several days after the shifts."
Then there's the Monday Effect. Mondays are generally the most stressful days of the week. Since the time change happens over the weekend, our first day back to work we go in sleep-deprived and under the most stress. The combination leads to a significant increase in heart attacks the first three days after the time change.
The problem is, your mind knows the time has changed, but your body can't adjust overnight. So instead of the usual suggestions people give to get more sleep, I'm going to give you a simple three-part plan to deal with the problem. This is a plan that would be best to start six days before the time change begins.
Step One: Time Shifting. Choose one clock to move ten minutes earlier, we'll call that the "living clock." Now use the living clock time for when you get up, go to bed and eat your meals. Before bedtime turn out the lights 10 minutes earlier, shut off the television, mute your phone and turn off the computer. Each day move the living clock forward by another ten minutes. After six days, your living clock will be moved ahead an entire hour. When the actual time change happens that night, your body and mind will have already adjusted.
Step Two: Block Outside Noise. Many sleep articles recommend you get the bedroom as quiet as possible. That advice is not entirely correct. When a room is dark and quiet, you DO tend to go into a deeper sleep. But, the addition of a little "white noise" in the background can help you block out more jarring sounds and prevent you from waking up to minor disturbances.
Playing a CD with the sound of a babbling brook, gentle rain or wind noises is one option. You can go hi-tech and use a specialized white noise machine. Or opt for the simple solution, a fan or air conditioner that's running constantly. (A cool bedroom is better for rest anyway because when we sleep, our bodies don't regulate temperature as well and we have a tendency to get a little warm.)
Step Three: Wake yourself up to light. Exposing yourself to bright light tells your body to stop pumping out the sleep hormone melatonin. Every morning get in the sunshine and take a quick 15-20 minute walk to help adjust that internal clock. Not only will you feel more awake, but you'll get a little extra exercise in. If going outside isn't an option, turn on bright overhead lights in your home and open any shades.
A 5% increased risk of heart attack may seem trivial, but it's a big deal when you realize just how many people are affected. Around the world, over 1.5 billion people are subjected to daylight savings time. The time change is going to happen whether you've prepared for it or not. Why not deal with it the easy three-step way?
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