Every year, Americans spring ahead and fall back to maximize the number of daylight hours during crucial times of the year. But there is a chance that the fall back 2021 and spring ahead 2021 and 2022 time changes may be the last. That's because the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would make daylight savings permanent.
In addition to making things simpler for Americans, evidence suggests that getting rid of daylight savings time may improve health. Read on to learn more about daylight savings, psychological stress, and heart attack risk.
Connection Between Daylight Savings Changes and Heart Attacks
Scientific studies have shown a link between heart attacks and daylight savings. Specifically, daylight savings heart attack statistics show that hospitals see roughly a 24 percent increase in heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest on the Monday after the time change.
What Is Behind the Daylight Savings Heart Attack Link?
There are two main reasons why springing ahead may lead to heart attack and cardiac arrest: sleep and stress.
Sleep Deprivation and Heart Health
Most adults need to sleep for at least 7 hours every night. When you don't get enough rest, your blood pressure can rise, increasing your heart attack and stroke risk. Our sleep patterns are controlled by circadian rhythms, brain processes that keep you awake when it's light outside and help you sleep when it's dark. Changing the clock by just one hour can throw off these rhythms, lead to sleep problems and potentially endanger those with underlying heart conditions.
What Is Stress?
Stress is the term for how your body responds to pressure and tension. For our ancient ancestors, it was a matter of life and death. When a predator spotted ancient mankind, a stress response kicked in, flooding our ancestors with chemicals that allowed them to fight off the foe or flee to safety.
Sometimes, modern-day stress does occur in life-and-death situations, but for most people, stress is caused by non-emergencies such as work and relationships. The problem is that our bodies can't differentiate between them. When you are worried about running late for work due to a time change, your body undergoes the same changes that it would if a saber-toothed tiger were chasing you.
Unfortunately, the sources of stress that we encounter during our daily lives are often ongoing. This puts our bodies in a heightened state of alarm, which can be detrimental to overall health and well-being.
Stress and Heart Health
Many people find themselves stressed out when we turn the clocks ahead. You don't get the right amount of sleep, and you lose an hour of valuable weekend relaxation time. Plus, the changes in daylight and dark patterns can be jarring. All of this can contribute to psychological stress.
Many studies have shown that stress worsens heart disease. People who are chronically stressed may be at an increased risk of heart attacks. In addition, stress can cause an irregular heartbeat, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, inflammation, and reduced blood flow to the heart.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
It's uncertain whether Congress will pass the bill to set U.S. time permanently as daylight savings time. What is more certain is that you can take steps to support heart health and make time changes less impactful by:
Resetting Your Internal Clock Gradually
When you know you will be springing ahead, start to adjust your bedtime and wake time accordingly. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier and wake up 10 minutes later every night for six days. This will allow you to get used to the time change and decrease the risk of upsetting your sleep cycle.
Finding Stress Management Techniques That Work for You
Stress management can offset some of the effects of tension on your heart and the rest of your body. There are many ways to reduce stress. The key is to find a method that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle. Some ideas include:
- Talk therapy with a professional
- Deep breathing
- Massage therapy
- Recreational activities
- Mindfulness meditation
Trying Heart Health Supplements
A healthy diet can go a long way toward promoting heart health but eating the recommended foods can be difficult with a hectic daily schedule. Heart health supplements may help to bridge the diet gap. For example, vitamin K2 may protect your heart by supporting proper calcium distribution throughout the body and reducing deposits that clog arteries. Vitamin D3 is essential for cardiovascular function and your immune system, metabolism, and strong muscles and bones. Your doctor can help you decide if a heart health supplement is right. Preventative care can also uncover any underlying heart conditions that can be treated before a heart attack occurs.
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