Researchers Show that Turning Your Clock Back Sunday May Help Your Heart

November 2, 2008 at 6:07 am Leave a comment

turn-clocks-back-one-hour.jpgTurning your clock back on Sunday may be good for your heart. Swedish
researchers looked at 20 years of records and discovered that the
number of heart attacks dipped on the Monday after clocks were set back
an hour, possibly because people got an extra hour of sleep.

But moving clocks forward in the spring appeared to have the
opposite effect. There were more heart attacks during the week after
the start of daylight saving time, particularly on the first three days
of the week.

“Sleep — through a variety of mechanisms — affects our cardiovascular health,”
said Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New
York-Presbyterian Hospital, who was not involved in the research. The
findings show that “sleep not only impacts how we feel, but it may also
affect whether we develop heart disease or not.”

The study was described in a letter published in Thursday’s New
England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Imre Janszky of the Karolinska
Institute and Dr. Rickard Ljung of Sweden’s National Board of Health
and Welfare.

Janszky said he came up with the idea for the study after last spring’s time change, when he was having problems adjusting.

“I was on the bus, quite sleepy, and I thought of this,” said Janszky, who has done other research on sleep and health.

They took advantage of Sweden’s comprehensive registry of heart
attacks to see if the disruptions to sleep and the body’s internal
clock caused by a time change had any effect on heart attacks from 1987
to 2006. They compared the number of heart attacks on each of the seven
days after the time shift with the corresponding day two weeks earlier
and two weeks later.

Overall, in the week after “spring forward,” there was a 5
percent increase in heart attacks, with a 6 percent bump on Monday and
Wednesday and a 10 percent increase on Tuesday. In the week after “fall
back,” the number of heart attacks was about the same, except on
Monday, which had a 5 percent decrease.

“The finding that the possibility of additional sleep seems to
be protective on the first workday after the autumn shift is
intriguing,” the authors wrote.

Doctors have long known that Monday in general is the worst day
for heart attacks, and they usually blame the stress of a new work week
and increased activity. The Swedish researchers said their findings
suggest that the minor loss of sleep that occurs at the end of ordinary
weekends — with people going to bed later on Sunday and getting up
early on Monday — might also be a contributing factor.

Last year, a study by American researchers found there were
more pedestrian deaths during the evening rush hour in November than
October as drivers and pedestrians adjust to the earlier darkness. They
said the risk for pedestrians drops in the morning when clocks are set
back and daylight comes earlier.

Daylight saving time in the United States ends this year at 2
a.m. Sunday. All states except Arizona and Hawaii will make the switch.
Sweden and the rest of Europe turned back their clocks last weekend.
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide live in countries that use
daylight saving time, the researchers said.

Sweden has a moderate rate of heart attacks and is at a high
latitude, but Janszky said he would expect roughly the same results
elsewhere.

Sleep can affect the heart through changes in blood pressure,
inflammation, blood clotting, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood
vessels, Mosca said. She suggested that anxiety from changes in routine
may also be a factor, in addition to loss of sleep.

Dr. Ronald Chervin, director of the University of Michigan’s
Sleep Disorders Center, said this is a “sleep-deprived society,” and he
advises taking advantage of Sunday’s time change and getting an extra
hour of sleep.

In the spring, he suggests gradually adjusting to the one-hour
loss by going to bed and getting up 15 minutes earlier for a few days
before the time change.

“We spend a third of our lives sleeping and people forget how much effect it has on overall health,” he said.

Source: Christian Post

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Entry filed under: Health, National. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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