Will One Lost Hour of Sleep Increase Your Risk for Heart Attack?

By Tara Weng, GalTime.com

Is 'Daylight Savings Time' bad for our health!?Is 'Daylight Savings Time' bad for our health!?

While most of us will be a little bit groggier after that lost hour of sleep over the weekend, one expert suggests that for some us that lost hour could prove deadly.

"The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead ... is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack," Martin Young, an associate professor in the cardiovascular disease division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. "The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent."

Young notes that the heart-attack risk isn't higher on the Sunday morning after clocks move ahead one hour because most people don't have to make an abrupt change in their daily schedule. The risk peaks on Monday, he says, because that's when most people return to work.

Young presented several theories to support his sleep deprivation--heart attack correlation. Among those include the body's circadian clock and immune responses to lack of sleep. He says often those who are sleep deprived weigh more and are at an increased risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Sleep deprivation is also believed to alter other body processes, including inflammatory response, which can contribute to a heart attack.

Related: Heart Disease: Risk for YOUNGER Women

As for safely "springing ahead" Young offers the following tips:

  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal on Saturday and Sunday to help prepare you for an early start on Monday.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast.

  • Head outside to catch some sunlight in the early morning.

  • Spend a few minutes getting some morning exercise over the weekend, as long as you don't have heart disease.

"Doing all of this will help reset both the central, or master, clock in the brain that reacts to changes in light/dark cycles, and the peripheral clocks -- the ones everywhere else including the one in the heart -- that react to food intake and physical activity," Young said. "This will enable your body to naturally sync with the change in the environment, which may lessen your chance of adverse health issues on Monday."

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