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Struggle to adjust to daylight saving? It's not just you.

March 08, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • A commuter yawns while his MTA bus makes a stop at a red light along Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.
A commuter yawns while his MTA bus makes a stop at a red light along Ventura… (Frank Wiese / Los Angeles…)

Once again, the oft-dreaded daylight saving time change is upon us. The day that the clocks “spring” forward also inevitably takes a spring out of our step.

Sure, the birds seem to chirp a little later, the sunlight shines a little less as we drag ourselves through the morning routine. But as study after study has shown, that seems to be about the only highlight in those first days after the change.

According to the Better Sleep Council, a nonprofit organization supported by mattress manufacturers, 61% of U.S. adults say daylight saving time affects their work the Monday after the changeover.

In a survey of 1,038 adults, the immediate effects of losing an hour of shuteye affected everything from people’s moods to eating and driving habits.

About 29% of those surveyed said it takes a week to adjust to the change, with adults between 18 and 34 needing the most time to get with the new program. (But let’s face it: those at the younger end of that range may struggle to get out of bed regardless.)

But don’t just take the mattress industry’s word for it. A number of studies over the last 13 years have highlighted the range of health consequences of people ill-prepared to start their morning routine just 60 minutes earlier.

According to a 2008 Swedish study, there’s a 6% to 10% increase in heart attacks in the first three workdays after the start of daylight saving time. An Australian study the same year concluded that men were more likely to commit suicide in the first few weeks after the switch, and a 2000 study in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention showed accidents in Sweden increased by 11% the Monday after the change.

Even your bank account can take a hit from the time change. A 2011 study notes that not only are stock markets more volatile the Monday after a time change, it usually leads to negative returns.

But sleep experts say all it takes to minimize the effects is a bit of preparation. People should start going to sleep earlier for several days before the change (it’s Friday so better late than never), and set their clocks ahead the night before.

Otherwise, you could end up like some of the respondents in that Better Sleep Council survey. Some of the more unusual mishaps from the time change included going to an ATM to order food, getting into the shower with underwear on and putting on clothes inside out.

Return to Booster Shots blog.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

twitter.com/josephserna

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