Spring ahead. Fall back. Set your clocks back one hour this weekend, as Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, November 3, at 2 AM.
My father-in-law told us the story about taking the bus to work when he was a newlywed. Then, Georgia adopted Daylight Savings Time.
Suddenly, the bus schedule no longer worked as it brought him to work either too late or too early.
So, he had to buy his first car. Then, just as he had saved up his money to buy new tires, World War II broke out and all tires were assigned to the war effort.
Though experts agree there is little savings on electricity anymore in the scheme designed to operate factories during the maximum number of daylight hours during World War II, there may be health consequences to changing our clocks twice a year.
In both Spring and Fall, when the time changes, traffic accidents increase. Canadian researchers reported a 17% increase in fatal car accidents after the Spring time change.
In the Spring, there is also a slight rise in heart attacks.
“The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10% increase in the risk of having of a heart attack,” says University of Alabama at Birmingham Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D. in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease.
“The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent.”
The risk rises on Monday morning in March, when people get up earlier to go to work.
Theories to explain the rise in heart attack risk range from theorizing that sleep deprivation increases the body’s inflammatory response and the associated risk of a heart attack, to stressing the body by changing its circadian rhythm, to disrupting the natural clock in the body’s immune system.
Young suggests several strategies:
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday or Sunday to prepare for an early rise on Monday in the Spring.
- Eat a good breakfast
- Go outside and let the sunshine help your system adjust to the new time.
In the Fall, however, while there is a reduced risk of heart attacks, there is a slight rise in risk of pedestrian accidents during the dark evening commute, since 25% of fatal pedestrian accidents happen between 4 and 8 PM.
Recommended safety tips include:
- If you’re a driver, slow down, giving yourself more time to see pedestrians
- Be sure windows, windshield and mirrors are clean.
- If you’re a pedestrian, carry a flashlight and attach reflective material to your clothing or backpack
- Use sidewalks and crosswalks and don’t depend on traffic lights.
People who have trouble sleeping may have even more trouble getting to sleep on time after Daylight Savings Time ends.
Go to bed 10 minutes later each night for the week before the change in the Fall to let your system adjust slowly to the new time.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru
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