'Falling Back' May Protect Your Heart
When you turn your clocks back this weekend for the end of daylight saving time, you might also be protecting your heart, according to new research.
Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute and Rickard Ljung of the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden took advantage of that country's detailed health records to examine what happened as the clocks were changed twice a year between 1987 and 2006.
In a letter published in today's New England Journal of Medicine, the pair report that the number of heart attacks that occurred on the Monday after clocks were turned back each fall was about 5 percent lower than usual.
Doctors have long known that the risk for heart attacks tends to be higher than usual on Mondays, perhaps because of the stress of starting a new work week. The Swedish researchers say that their findings suggest that sleep may also play a role, and that extra hour of slumber may be protective. Previous studies have suggested that sleep deprivation can boost blood pressure, heart rate and the risk for blood clots.
But that means we might want to watch out when spring comes around -- losing an hour of sleep when we change the clocks again may be risky for the heart. In fact, the researchers found that there was a jump in heart attacks of 6 percent to 10 percent in the week after "springing forward." So you might want to try to go to bed an hour earlier the next you switch your clocks back again next March.
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