Patient Organization Calls for an End to Spring Time Change

Health risks from changing to Daylight Saving Time continue to accumulate

March 9, 2020

  • Summary: is calling for an end to the spring time change due to related health risks
  • Reading time:  1–2 minutes

Today is the first day back at work for most people after the change to Daylight Saving Time. If you felt like a zombie when you woke up today, you’re not alone.

The sleep disruption from the spring time change can lead to devastating consequences and can require days, even weeks, to recover. And that may be just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that the time change can cause more serious issues?

While there hasn’t been much research into the effects that these ongoing time changes have on people in the U.S., the available research does show that the spring time change can result in an immediate 24% increase in heart attacks as well as an increase in strokes. Some increased risks are due to the massive sleep disruptions that many people experience when their circadian rhythms are disturbed. Thus, it is clear that the effect of the time change on health is not a good one.

It can be especially bad for the approximately six million Americans who suffer from an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (afib for short). Those who have afib have a 500% increased risk of strokes compared to those without afib. The increase is even higher in women who are 65 or over.

The time change can be a source of stress and sleep disruption, both of which provoke atrial fibrillation episodes.

Research presented at the 2018 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions and recently published in Sleep Medicine found a significant increase in afib hospital admissions during the Monday-Thursday period following the spring transition to Daylight Savings Time. When analyzed by gender, much of this increase was in women.

It is not just bad for those who already have afib; there are many people with undiagnosed afib who may effectively be strokes walking around, waiting to happen. Will the time change be the thing that causes them to have a stroke? We don’t know, as we don’t have research to that effect, but it is a very reasonable hypothesis.

And, could the time change be one of the undetermined factors in our increasing epidemic of people developing afib?

We don’t necessarily have a preference for standard time over daylight saving time. However, many scientists who research circadian rhythms suggest that their research shows that standard time is much better for us. Just don’t make us keep shifting our internal clocks twice a year – let’s pick one and stay with it.

Can this be the year that we finally decide to just say no to the time change next spring, and to stop changing our internal (and external) clocks twice a year? We will be much healthier if we do so.