SO YOU SHED the winter gear and it’s finally a bearable fifty degrees outside, but you suddenly find yourself yawning more even after a good night ‘s sleep. A lukewarm spring beginning is a welcome surprise after a dreary winter, but it doesn’t come without its down side. One reason for this is the disruption in our circadian rhythms experienced when we turn clocks forward when ‘springing’ into daylight savings time.
“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” – White Rabbit, Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Circadian misalignment, associated with seasonal changes, daylight savings time and jet lag, decreases vagal cardiac modulation, the synchrony of the physiological action of the heart. It also decreases the excretion of the stress hormone epinephrine from the body, meaning it may be floating around in our bloodstream a little longer. Both lead to increased fatigue.
Inflammatory markers triggered by stress (like in the form of a screaming alarm clock an hour before we are ready to hear it), also go up. These markers, including interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, resistin, and tumor necrosis factor-a can lead to weight gain, sugar cravings, fatigue, and fatty plaque formation in the arteries that leads to an elevated blood pressure later in life.
Studies have shown that when we lose an hour of sleep, the rate of heart attacks increases. Researchers found a significant increase in acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) in the first 3 days after clocks were turned forward in the spring.
So as the birds begin to collect on tree branches, and you find yourself downing an extra cup of coffee after lunch next week, offset the ‘spring effect’ with:
Nutrition: Increase your vitamin intake with more fruits and veggies and cut out the sedating heavy winter comfort foods.
Meditate: It does wonders for your stress level. Download one of these apps.
Eat more chocolate: Yes, chocolate. It contains psychoactive chemicals, like anandamines which stimulate the brain in the same way as cannabis does, mellowing out mood. Tyramine and phenylethylamine boost energy levels since they have stimulant properties similar to amphetamine. (Just be sure to munch on the natural kind!)
Ref: Janszky, et al. Shifts to and from Daylight Saving Time and Incidence of Myocardial Infarction. NEJM: 2012
Morris et al. Circadian misalignment increases cardiovascular disease risk factors in humans. PNAS. 2016.