A recent study on the effects of DST on levels of cortisol, aka "the stress hormone," showed that the one-hour of sleep deprivation due to daylight saving time was linked to an average of 5 percent increase in cortisol in people’s blood. “For each hour later that the sun rose there was an almost 5 percent increase in median cortisol,” according to the research.
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A new study showed evidence that just two days after we change the clocks, the overall risk of stroke jumps by 8 percent. The altered circadian rhythm and the mild shock to the immune system can cause more problems in people who are already at risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type caused by a blockage in blood flow to the brain. Other research has suggested that the risk for heart failure as a result of DST increased by 10 percent.
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No light in the morning and more at night when you’re used to going to bed will shock your body for a few days. It took a third of Americans about seven days to adjust to the time change, according to a survey from 2014. You’ll be sleepy in the mornings and active at night. You’ll have more energy because you’ve been exposed to natural daylight for longer.
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Not getting enough sleep can lead to poor motor skills. A study among mine workers found work-related accidents jumped 5 percent when the clocks moved forward. You are at risk for about a week after the time change until the body fully adjusts. And it doesn’t have to be manual labor; poor motor skills can lead to a nasty slip in an office environment as well.
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A hormonal imbalance due to lack of sleep can make many people hungrier than usual, thanks to the release of ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite. The result is food cravings and continuing to eat even after you’re full. Studies have shown that shorter sleep duration is associated with elevated ghrelin and increased Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight gain.
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When your body hasn’t had enough rest, the nervous system is overworked, causing stress. Also, consistent lack of sleep can negatively affect your body's ability to regulate stress hormones, which leads to high blood pressure. Nobody gets enough sleep these days because of work and other factors; don’t add nature to that list.
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Moving the clocks forward and the subsequent loss of sleep prompts cluster headaches in some people. The intense pain usually occurs at the same time of the day because it is linked to circadian rhythm. The changed pace affects the release of certain hormones that affect the body’s functions in a way that sets off chronic pain.
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Think of DST as jet lag. The effects on your ability to think and process information are very similar. Tired and sleepy people often make poor decisions because they can’t think clearly. Brain imaging studies of sleep-deprived participants have found that the greatest decrease in cerebral metabolic rate is in the prefrontal cortex, which is a crucial part of the brain regulating thinking tasks, according to a review published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
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Sleeping fewer hours will make you groggy and dazed in the mornings, which are going to be dark for a few weeks. The lack of light at 6 a.m. when most Americans arise for work, will throw your suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN (the brain’s natural clock) out of balance. SCN controls sleep patterns but it needs cues, such as daylight, in order to function properly.
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Your brain stores memories when you sleep. So, naturally, your cognitive skills are affected when you haven’t slept as much. A 2012 survey from the Better Sleep Council shows that 12 percent of people in the U.S. forgot to do something very important and 5 percent were irrational. One such behavior included going to work when they were supposed to be off.
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Several studies have shown a link between daylight saving and the increased number of suicides. Where you live can be a factor because different countries have different exposure to light. Australian suicide data from 1971 to 2001 were assessed to determine the impact on the number of suicides of the one-hour time shift. The results confirm that male suicide rates rise in the weeks following the commencement of daylight saving. This study indicates that even little changes in chronobiological rhythms can be destabilizing vulnerable individuals.
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A 2005 study found a 7 percent increase in car crashes after DST was applied. The mornings were the worst, with a 14 percent increase in accidents. Research has indicated a rise in fatal automobile incidents, especially the Monday after, due to sleep deprivation. Some data suggests that 366 lives are lost due to DST-related accidents.
It’s common knowledge that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a problem in the winter months. About half a million people in the U.S. are affected between September and April, peaking in December, January and February. "We are placing these people back into February. We are dealing with a public health issue and the extension of Daylight Saving Time at both ends is extending the period of year in which people are most vulnerable to depression,” according to Michael Terman from Columbia University Medical Center," according to Michael Terman from Columbia University Medical Center.