Falling back an hour means health risks

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Updated: 11/05/2012 9:09 am Published: 11/02/2012 10:00 pm

Daylight Saving Time in November means we gain an hour of sleep and lose an hour of daylight, which can cause serious health risks if we do not prepare our bodies for it. 

“When you don’t get that normal restful sleep at night your body begins to break down,” said Tulsa’s sleep medicine Dr. Michael Newnam.  “So whether it’s cancer, heart disease, infection, you just don’t function at your best when you do not get the rest you need.”

His patient load increases each winter. 

“I think, seasonally, the days are shorter in the winter, so that’s why there are more disturbed sleepers; because there is less daylight, which means less activity time.  That can lead to depression, over eating, and a lower immune system.”

Stephanie DeVault is a mother of two young children.  She has two-year-old Madison and one-year-old Lindsey. 

Lindsey sleeps in her and her husband’s bedroom because she wakes up in the night and Stephanie does not want Lindsey to wake up Madison.  Stephanie’s husband, Kevin wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to get to work.  They worry with turning their clocks back an hour, Lindsey will be waking them up at 3:30 a.m. 

“The one thing I am concerned with is there may be less sleep with her waking up,” said DeVault. 

Dr. Newnam recommends parents creep into the one hour fall back time.  Maybe slowly start going to be a few minutes earlier each night before you have to go back the full hour.

“Do it incrementally,” said Dr. Newnam.  “If you can change a child’s schedule by 15 minutes or 20 minutes over a period of a week or two, you can adapt them to a new schedule easier.”

He also said those who sleep less, also tend to eat more.

“It’s a vicious cycle.  If you are not getting enough sleep, you are reaching for that food, that energy, that caffeine, that sugary energy drink to get you through the day.  It can snowball into obesity.”

“People just don’t get enough sleep.  Their lives are busier, they are more stressed.  When you add in changing times like Daylight Saving Time, it’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back, now you have that extra hour to deal with.”

It might sound minimal, after all it’s only an hour.  But it has a bigger effect on people and society than people realize.  Studies out of a United Kingdom based Policies Studies Institute have shown moving your clock ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time in the spring increased heart attacks by ten percent. 

In order to keep your body stable, keep a stricter sleep schedule.  Go to bed around the same hour every night. 

“Having a consistent schedule of going to bed is so important,” said Dr. Newnam.  “It’s really important to have a good bed time ritual.  Turn off electronics, put the work computer away, and settle into a relaxing state.  You need to maintain a pretty consistent sleep schedule."

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 11/4/2012 1:44 AM
0 Votes
We lose an hour of daylight? What a crock of bulloney. For starters ;-) man invented time. There is nothing that man can do to change the amount of daylight that we are going to get.

USEagle - 11/3/2012 7:02 PM
0 Votes
Stop daylight savings....it is STUPID!

Bnewby - 11/3/2012 10:58 AM
0 Votes
We don't lose an hour of daylight. Anyone with a job, kids in school, in school, etc. should still be up before daylight.
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