DR. MITCH: Daylight Saving Time (DST): Agh!

It's that time of year again. We change our clocks this weekend moving forward by one hour. The key point is that you will lose an hour of sleep. Most of us are already sleep deprived so when you take away an additional hour the situation is ripe for nasty things to happen. 

Your appetite

Sleep deprivation leads to craving carbs; sweets; and, fatty "comfort" foods. You have less self control and so foods you would normally avoid you might actually be tempted to eat. Be forewarned and hide them so they aren't available in your house.

Your heart and brain

Especially for older people and those with cancer, the risk of a stroke appears to be increased in the first 2 days after the transition and then slowly to return to normal.  A blood clot forms and blocks off the blood supply to a part of the brain. The person may suddenly become weak or paralyzed in a part of their body, their mouth may droop, or they might have difficulty speaking. Any of these are serious and you need to be assessed at once. Similarly your risk for a heart attack may increase in the first 3 days after DST. Chest pain, unexplained light-headedness or shortness of breath could be some of the ways it will present.

You're accident prone

There is an increase in car accidents in the first workday after the DST and deaths as a result of car accidents as well. So take it easy and be extra cautious.

Your are less productive at work

Enough said. The tendency is for tired people not to work as effectively. In fact "cyber-loafing" ie surfing the net not for work, actually increases in the workplace after the DST.

In the end, the important thing is to give yourself a chance to adjust. Some people are mores sensitive than others and may require as long as 4 days to make the adjustment. You can start small by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each day for 4 days, or take a nap for the first day or 2 after DST. 

However you decide to deal with it, please do be careful and give yourself more time to get to work and be especially vigilant to avoid accidents .