If you’re feeling tired, cranky, or just out of sorts because of daylight saving time, you’re not alone. Research shows the hour lost due to “springing forward” can definitely have an effect on your mood and health. And while the impact can range from serious to mild, experts say it’s a very real thing. For example, heart patients like Regina Cabrera were told to lay off on caffeine the day after the time change.
Her physician, cardiologist Henry Balian, says caffeine can definitely increase palpitations. Cabrera said patients in Balian’s waiting room seemed to reflect the mood. “It’s incredibly busy, and yeah, everyone looks really tired, and a little grumpy,” said Cabrera. While Mondays are always busy, Balian, who is with Adventist Health, said today was worse than usual. “More people come to the emergency room and to the hospital with heart attacks just because the stress levels are higher, and people have slept one hour less,” he explained. On the Monday after springing forward, hospitals report a 24 percent spike in heart-attack visits. The average person loses about 40 minutes of sleep, and the sleep loss can affect much more than your heart.
Cleveland Clinic’s Emad Estemalik said headache sufferers might feel worse as well. “A lot of migraine sufferers usually will have a little bit of sleep deprivation if their sleep is affected by this time change, so they may see an increase in headache frequency during that period,” Estemalik said. Losing an hour of sleep can make you feel more than just groggy; it can have a serious impact on your appetite, your motor skills and coordination, and of course, your mood. Moving the clock forward an hour changes the body’s time cue — light — which it uses to set the circadian rhythm.
That change can, in turn, throw off our internal body clock. “Lack of sleep is also correlated with a higher stress level,” Balian said. That can lead to poor judgement and decision-making, which may be part of the reason car accidents also spike the day after the time change. Neurologists suggest taking melatonin to adjust your body clock and to avoid things that can sometimes lead to headaches. “Try to modify all your triggers,” said Estemalik. “That will probably help.” The dangerous heart-attack trend lasts for one day, but for everyone else — our bodies may not recover for weeks. The experts’ advice: Don’t skip exercise, eat healthy and make it a point to get more rest.
Try to get some outside light during the day, and avoid bright lights as you get ready for bed. If you’re already sleep deprived, try to add an extra hour on top of the one that’s lost to help you ease back into the new schedule.