On Sunday, March 13, Americans from coast to coast marked daylight saving time, an archaic and controversial tradition that occurs just before the start of spring each year.
All over the country Americans are springing their clocks one hour forward (or forgetting to), giving many people more sunlight in a day. Unfortunately, daylight saving time has even worse consequences than making millions of people start out a week minus one hour of sleep.
Researchers in Finland recently found that the risk of stroke was 8% higher in the two days following daylight saving time. Even worse, cancer patients were 25% more likely to suffer a stroke, while seniors were 20% more likely as well. According to CNN, the Finnish researchers “compared the rate of stroke in more than 3,000 people hospitalized the week after a daylight saving time shift to the rate of stroke in more than 11,000 people hospitalized two weeks before or after the week of transition.”
Not only that, but “Stroke risk is highest in the morning hours,” said Dr. Jori Ruuskanen of the University of Turku. “Previous studies have also shown that the disruption of the circadian clock due to other reasons (e.g. due to rotating shift work) and sleep fragmentation are associated with an increased risk of stroke. However, we did not know whether stroke risk is affected by DST transitions.”
That’s particularly bad news for Alabama residents, which is officially ranked as one of the most sleep-deprived states in the entire country. Nationally, about four out of every 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of nightly sleep (7.5 hours minimum).
But when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention randomly surveyed 440,000 Americans, they were able to determine which regions were the most sleep deprived. In Alabama, only 61.2% got the recommended amount of sleep, the fourth-lowest. True, Maryland, Kentucky and Hawaii fared worse, but it’s bad news for the Yellowhammer state, especially in the days following yet another exhausting daylight saving time.