Daylight Savings could have consequences for more than sleep

(ABC 6 News) – As Daylight Savings steals an hour of sleep from Americans Sunday, plenty of Midwesterners are prepared for groggy mornings the following work week.

But the cost of the lost hour could be much higher, according to Mayo Clinic sleep researchers.

When clocks move forward, both major and minor motor vehicle accidents increase for a few days, Dr. Lois Krahn said.

“We know there are consequences” for the resulting sleep deprivation, Krahn, a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, said.

Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist with a research interest in sleep, added that the average number of heart attacks go up after clocks “Spring Forward” and decrease when they “Fall Back.”

“I am yet to find advantages to Daylight Savings Time,” Somers said. “I just think the consequences and disruption — particularly for children — is not worth the benefits."

Even outside of Daylight Savings’ unnatural jumps forward and back, most adults don’t get enough uninterrupted sleep for a variety of reasons, Krahn said. Young children, lighting and temperature issues, health issues like apnea and restless leg syndrome can all cause people to toss and turn.

And then there’s stress, and the effect of light from phones and other electronic devices.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the list of possible sleep disruptions has only grown.

A few things can help: winding down before bed, and avoiding phone and device use after lights-out.

“While we live in a fast-paced society, it’s not reasonable to ‘go, go, go’ and then fall right asleep,” Krahn said. “We don’t jump into sleep, we don’t dive – we fall asleep.”

Melatonin production slows or stops when humans look into bright lights, Somers added, which makes using devices before or while trying to sleep counterproductive.

The consequences of long-term sleep loss can be dire. It is related to high blood pressure and heart disease, insulin resistance, and weight gain – and that’s just the beginning.

“Think of lack of sleep as a process that takes you closer to endocrine aging and other aging processes,” Somers said.

One thing that doesn’t help: “catching up” on sleep every weekend. “Think of (it) as yo-yo dieting,” Somers said.