Daylight Savings Time Has A Negative Effect On Your Circadian Rhythm

March 17, 2011

By now most people have adjusted to daylight savings time after springing forward last Sunday, but a few may be at an increased risk for health complications such as heart attack over the next few weeks.

In the weeks that follow Daylight Savings Time, rates for heart attack and suicide rise (especially in men). Part of the cause may be due to inflammatory and metabolic changes in cells, according to this article from Time.com. Another likely cause, though, is the disruption of melatonin production.

Your circadian rhythm, which regulates your waking and sleeping pattern, as well as when you feel most active during the day (click here for an infographic), is incredibly important to your health. Melatonin, the main regulator of your circadian rhythm, is produced by your body when you’re in darkness (as when you sleep) and not only enhances your sleep but is an important antioxidant that may help prevent cancer and other serious diseases.

Whenever your circadian rhythm is disrupted, as with Daylight Savings Time, your body’s melatonin production is disrupted. While most people recover after a day, those with chronic conditions such as poor heart health or depression are at a greater risk for complications, such as heart attack and suicide, respectively.

Regular disruption of the circadian rhythm, whether due to a shift job, certain lifestyles, or insomnia, can cause chronic health problems, including up to a 50% increased risk of cancer, increased rates and exacerbation of psychological problems (including stress), and weight gain (on two fronts: those who don’t sleep enough snack more, and those who don’t produce enough melatonin are more likely to gain weight).

If you’re worried that you may be at risk due to Daylight Savings Time, or from chronic lack of sleep, regulate your circadian rhythm by supplying your body with melatonin from a supplement.

Read more about Insomnia

Read more about Melatonin

How do you feel during Daylight Savings Time? Do you use the extra daylight, or regret the stolen hour? How quickly do you adjust? Be heard by posting in the comments!

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