Why Daylight Saving Time can kill you

Why Daylight Saving Time can kill you
Credit: Pixabay

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - Why are some people grumpy, even fearful, about Sunday's start of Daylight Saving Time?

Moving our clocks forward by an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11 – giving us extra sunlight after work – might be expected to brighten not only our days but our outlooks.

If you're at risk of a heart attack, however, you have reason to be on your guard, reports Live Science, an online science, nature and tech site.

The clock change also can drive some cats crazy and turn households topsy-turvy.

Researchers in 2014 found that heart attacks increased 24 percent on the Monday after the change to DST, compared with the daily average number for the weeks surrounding the start of DST, according to Live Science. The researchers reported their findings in Open Heart, an official journal of the British Cardiovascular Society.

"It's something that has also been seen with other stressors," such as tsunamis or earthquakes, one of the study's authors, Dr. Hitinder Gurm of the University of Michigan Health System, told Live Science.

A 2008 report, based on heart attacks in Sweden, concluded that the chance of a heart attack rises during the first three weekdays after the springtime shift to DST, possibly because of sleep deprivation, Reuters reported.

No one knows for sure why the risk increases, but some researchers believe the hour change can disrupt circadian rhythms and mess with cortisol levels that manage stress, according to Live Science.

Parenting sites, meanwhile, offer tips to prevent the time change from causing "too much sleep-and-feeding-schedule craziness" on toddlers and babies, as the Baby Sleep Site puts it.

If your baby or toddler is waking up too early, for instance, then don't do anything, the site recommends. A nice middle option is to shift a baby or toddler's schedule by 30 minutes. If your baby was waking at 7 a.m. before the time change, then wake her at 7:30 after the time change, according to the Baby Sleep Site.

While the loss of sleep can challenge people of all ages, it's even tougher on children, Daniel Lewin of the Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., told Parents magazine. "The loss of just one hour can really affect a child's attention span, appetite, and overall mood," he said.

Dim the lights in your child's bedroom and turn off all electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, he told the site. And stick with your child's bedtime routine.

As for your cats: If you feed them regular meals at a certain time of day, the time change "can drive them wild," according to CatTime.com. Or at least make them pretty grumpy, according to The Catington Post.

Your cat may need "a little paw-holding" for the next few days, according to the Post. "The good news is that cats are resilient and will adjust to it just fine every year, just like we do."

In part because of the potential adverse effects of changing the clocks twice a year, numerous states have considered abolishing Daylight Saving Time. Yet only Hawaii and Arizona, which don't need the extra sunny hours, stay on Standard Time year-round.

On Tuesday, the Florida Senate voted 33-2 to send a bill to Gov. Rick Scott to ask the U.S. Congress to decide whether Florida should be a state that enjoys Daylight Saving Time year-round. It was passed by the House on Feb. 14, 103-11.

In 2017, The (Columbia) State reported, lawmakers in 18 states considered proposals rolling back, extending or otherwise changing Daylight Saving Time. That was up from the 13 states that considered such changes in 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In November, The State reported that S.C. State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry County, filed a proposal to put the question of eliminating Daylight Saving Time on ballots. With expected opposition from the retail and tourism lobby, it's uncertain that will happen.