Did you forget? Clocks went forward at 1am today as doctors warn losing an hour of sleep may be dangerous for millions of people with heart problems
- The clocks went forward one hour to British Summer Time (BST) today at 1am
- Losing an hour’s sleep increases hospital admissions for heart rhythm condition
- Sufferers need emergency treatment due to the effect on their circadian rhythm
For most of us it signals the end of the bleak winter months and the promise of longer days to come.
But moving the clocks forward an hour could be bad for the health of more than a million people in Britain with a life-threatening heart problem.
British summer time (BST) officially started at 1am on Sunday March 29, when the clocks went forward an hour to 2am.
However a major study shows losing an hour’s sleep due to daylight saving increases hospital admissions for a serious heart rhythm condition known as atrial fibrillation.
British summer time (BST) officially started at 1am on Sunday 29 March, when the clocks went forward an hour to 2am (file image)
It causes an estimated 16,000 strokes a year. Now scientists fear that the one-hour loss of sleep is enough to leave some sufferers needing emergency treatment because the effect on their circadian rhythm – or body clock – makes their heart rate go haywire.
The study, by experts at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, backs up previous research suggesting heart attacks spike in the days after the clocks going forward.
But moving them back an hour in the autumn does not appear to have the same effect, the scientists reported.
Atrial fibrillation develops when electrical activity in the heart goes haywire, causing it to beat irregularly.
However a major study shows losing an hour’s sleep due to daylight saving increases hospital admissions for a serious heart rhythm condition known as atrial fibrillation (file image)
Symptoms include chest pain, dizziness and fatigue, but a significant number of sufferers have no idea they are ill until they have a stroke.
Blood that should be pumped around the body begins to pool and thicken in the left ventricle.
If a clot breaks away and travels up arrow blood vessels that feed the brain, it can block the supply of oxygen-rich blood, causing a stroke.
The US team tracked 6,000 patients in their 60s over a seven-year period. All the volunteers had atrial fibrillation that was treated with prescription medicines.
The results, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, found hospital admissions with heart rhythm complications jumped around 25 per cent in the days following the clocks changing.
Moving the clocks forward an hour could be bad for the health of more than a million people in Britain with a life-threatening heart problem (file image)
Women were more affected than men.
In a report on the findings, scientists said: ‘Daylight saving results in changes in circadian rhythms and disturbances in sleep duration that may last for weeks. This can affect heart rate and blood pressure.’
Last year the European Parliament voted to abandon daylight saving time – introduced during the First World War to save energy by prolonging daylight in summer.
The ruling is due to take effect next year but Britain has so far rejected the idea.
Daylight Savings 2020: What is it and when do clocks change?
Daylight Savings Time is the process of setting clocks back one hour during the spring so that the evening daylight lasts longer during the day while sunrise hours are subsequently reduced.
The origins of Daylight Savings Time are generally thought to go back to the ideas of William Willett, an English builder who proposed the modern concept of Daylight Savings Time in 1907 as a way to enjoy the extra daylight in the summer months and save money.
Willett lobbied the British Parliament extensively but ironically passed away shortly before its adoption by Germany, the UK and many other European countries in 1916 and elsewhere in the years that followed.
In the UK the clocks go forward by one hour at 2am on the last Sunday in March, and back one hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October – this year it will be October 25.
The period when the clocks are one hour ahead is called British Summer Time (BST).
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