How Daylight Saving Time Might Affect One's Body & Mind

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While disruption of sleeping patterns may make a person more vulnerable health-wise and increase the likelihood of a stroke or a heart attack, however slightly, it apparently could also lead to depression.
The practice of advancing and then turning back your clock each year as part of the daylight saving time system may apparently generate adverse effects on one’s well-being due to its interfere with circadian rhythm. Daylight saving time is employed by several countries across the world.
Whatever economic benefits daylight saving might net, the disruption on people’s sleeping patterns might cause some pretty serious health problems, MailOnline has pointed out.
For example, Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford, whom the newspaper touts as “one of the world's leading experts on the circadian rhythm”, warns that a combination of sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption could lead to a stroke.
“We have this clock, and it is fine tuning every aspect of our physiology and behaviour to the 24-hour light and dark cycle,” he said. “We see increased blood pressure ranking up. For example, between 6am and 12 noon there is a 50 per cent greater chance of having a stroke anyway.”
“If you are being forced to get out of bed even earlier you are putting more stress on the system, which means you are less adapted to cope,” Foster added. “For most of us it is fine because we have got a healthy and robust metabolism, but where you are at an increased risk the transition to daylight savings time can essentially put extra stresses on our biology and makes us more prone to illnesses.”
The professor also said that there is evidence linking sleep deprivation with depression, and that disrupting one’s sleep and getting less sleep leaves one vulnerable and “more likely to slide into that depressed state.”
“If you add a disrupter, such as sleep loss or circadian rhythm disruption, you are going to be more vulnerable to slide into a dangerous state, for example a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar,” Foster explained.
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Another expert in circadian rhythm, Dr. John O'Neill from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, also suggested that changing the clocks may lead to a slightly increased risk of heart attacks among the populace.
“If circadian rhythms are disrupted chronically, for example in shift work, we know that is really bad for your health in the long term,” he said as quoted by the newspaper. “It is very rare that anyone drops dead from it, but the risk associated with doing shift work is the equivalent to smoking cigarettes.”
Comparing the effect of changing the clocks to “getting an hour’s jet lag”, O’Neill noted that “it is really such a modest challenge to your circadian system that the vast majority of people deal with it absolutely fine.”
“But because it is happening at the level of the population you can see a slight increase in the frequency of heart attacks,” he admitted.
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The newspaper also pointed out that, as moving the clock back an hour in autumn essentially results in people experiencing darker evenings as daytime grow shorter, some people may experience the so-called seasonal affective disorder a.k.a. winter depression whose symptoms are “similar to depression and include a persistent low mood and difficulty concentrating.”
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