Cihacekj’s Weblog

November 2, 2008

Daylight Saving: A makeover for your heart

Filed under: Health — Jessica Cihacek @ 9:23 pm

My guess is you probably didn’t have to hit the snooze button today.  Yes, because it is Sunday, but also because at 2 am this morning, the clocks switched over and you snuck in a few more Zzz’s with an extra hour of sleep.  You may have just done your heart a favor.

One of our very own, University of Nebraska Medical Center alumnae, and MSNBC medical correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman is sharing the results of recent Swedish studies on the correlation between more sleep and decreased heart attack risks.  It is found that overall, people do better with heart attack rates this time of year.  Ultimately, this means that the extra hour of sleep you get Saturday night could be translating to a drop in Monday morning death rates.

Here’s why:

  • When we leap forward with time in the Spring, heart attack rates go up 5%
  • When we fall back in the Fall, heart attack rates drop 5%
  • Studies show that people are highest at risk for a heart attack on Mondays in general

For a while, researchers thought all of this news was due to stress, which can also play a role in heart health.  Studies over the past 20 years, however, are showing that it’s really the sleep.  Sundays are known as our “catch up” day for errands, chores, homework, and also sleep.  The late night movies, colds and flu interfering with a restful full night, and “living it up” on the weekends all add up for a stressful and tiresome Monday.

It’s obvious that an hour in shift in time is hard on the human body, but just one hour can also be beneficial in the long run.  Turns out that sleep is more important to our heart than we have ever given it credit for.  Snyderman suggests that we look at this time change as a first step in a heart makeover.

“Take this step now in adding an extra 15, 30, 45 minutes or an hour [of sleep] every day of the week…the reality is yes, you’ll probably reduce your heart attack risk.”

The results are quite fascinating, nappers: catching some shut-eye is just as important to our health as the food we put into our mouth.

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