Avoid a DST Disaster

Heart attacks, strokes, car accidents- oh my.  The consequences of Daylight Savings Time (DST) and how to avoid them.

Daylight Savings Time – the artificial lengthening of the day which starts in the spring and ends late fall— shifts time against the natural body clock, or circadian rhythm.  This one hour time adjustment means a loss in sleep and increased stress.  The weeks following the Spring onset of DST leave millions of Americans with increased daytime sleepiness, a higher likelihood of cardiovascular incidents and decreased attention spans.

  Know the risks to avoid disaster:

In the first two days following DST, Incidents of ischemic stroke increased by 8% in the regular population, but rose to 20% increase in people over the age of 65 and people who had malignancies. If you observe someone with

Facial Drooping
Arm Weakness
Speech Difficulty
Time to call 911
Think FAST!

These symptoms of stroke may occur together or with
-Numbness, tingling Confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
-Trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination,
-Severe headache with no known cause
-Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Don’t delay—call 911 for assistance as soon as possible.

Heart attack:
The incidence of myocardial ischemia, or heart attack, increases  by  a dramatic 17% in the week following the transition to DST.  Chest discomfort, lightheadedness or nausea, pain in the jaw, shoulder or arm, shortness of breath—Call 911.



Car accidents:
With an 8 percent increase in car accidents, keep you head’s up and eyes open, especially on the Monday after DST.   Drive safely! Avoid distractions!
Avoid by:
-Driving defensively- watch drivers around you.
-Leave your cup of coffee at home, don’t eat, keep one hand on the wheel, don’t talk on the cell phone, hands free or not. Eliminate distractions
-Stick to the speed limit (avoid excessive speed) and give yourself a 2 second cushion of time between the car in front of you.

Finally: Reduce sleep deprivation by preparing for the time change:

Transition to an earlier bed time: Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier in the days prior to DST
-Move waking/eating and exercising times up by the same amount.  Avoid screens such as computers, games an hour before bedtime.


Coren, S. (1996). Daylight savings time and traffic accidents. New England Journal of Medicine334(14), 924-925.

Janszky, I., & Ljung, R. (2008). Shifts to and from daylight saving time and incidence of myocardial infarction. New England Journal of Medicine359(18), 1966-1968.

Jiddou, M. R., Pica, M., Boura, J., Qu, L., & Franklin, B. A. (2013). Incidence of myocardial infarction with shifts to and from daylight savings time. The American journal of cardiology111(5), 631-635.

Sipilä, J. O., Ruuskanen, J. O., Rautava, P., & Kytö, V. (2016). Changes in ischemic stroke occurrence following daylight saving time transitions. Sleep Medicine27, 20-24.



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