the mood and health effects of losing an hour of sleep

When you move your hands forward, you give up an hour of sleep and gain an hour of light. But what are the side effects? We talked about it with the expert Luigi Ferini Strambi.

Interview with Professor Luigi Ferini Strambi

Head of the Sleep Medicine Center at the IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milan

An hour isn’t just an hour, especially when it comes to sixty minutes of sleep lost due to Daylight Savings Time. There are many people who fear this change knowing that they will encounter certain evils. “The time change is a mini jet lag – explains Professor Luigi Ferini Strambi, Head of the Sleep Medicine Center at IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milan – And it creates a bit of a disturbance”. Those most affected are the so-called owls. “Those who used to go to bed late will now have to make an unnatural effort, as they will be forced to go to bed a little earlier than usual. While for the larks (who fall asleep and wake up early) there will be no problem from this point of view, indeed”.

The effects of summer time

The vertigo, this feeling of being a little out of phase, fortunately does not last. “At most 3-4 days. However, the elderly and children suffer the most because they are more tied to specific time markers.” The effects are of different kinds. “They range from migraines, lack of concentration, mood swings, irritability. All because we are forced, against our will, to change our habits and hang up at another time. Even if it only changes by an hour.”

How to deal with the time change

It would be useful, in order not to be overwhelmed by the effects of this mini jet lag, to put in place some strategies. “The ideal would be to start adapting to a different time already two or three days before – suggests Ferini Strambi – And try to go to bed a little earlier than usual. Just like you do when you have to deal with a trip where there is a time zone change”. In general however, one should not dramatize because the effects really last a few days. “Let’s try to react immediately and take advantage of the hour of light gained” advises the expert.

Walking alone is good for your health: it fights stress and improves mood

But is daylight saving time really a good idea?

If the short-term effects are all in all minimal, many experts believe that it is necessary to abolish the transition to summer time. “Many studies show that the time change leads to an increase in cardiovascular risk in the coming days – explains Ferini Strambi – There is a very high rate of heart attacks and hospitalizations for atrial fibrillation in the week following the time change. This happens because our bodies have precise circadian rhythms and altering them in such a forceful way, even if only for an hour, can have significant repercussions. Another consequence concerns car accidents: the day after the time change there are a very high number of them, this happens precisely because people sleep one hour less of sleep deprivation”. An Austrian study that lasted almost thirty years is also very significant: “It has been shown that within a week of the hands moving forward, there is an increase in the daily death rate, which does not occur when solar time is reset.” The question of the abolition of summer time is much debated in Europe, but for the moment Italy has chosen not to give up advancing its hands for a question of consumption. “I think the transition from summer time to winter time should be abolished – says Ferini Strambi – In this way there would be no repercussions due to the two moments of change, but above all we could take advantage of greater exposure to light, which means the possibility of living more outside, of absorbing more vitamin D and produce more serotonin, with positive effects on our mood”.

The information provided on is designed complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his physician.

Add Comment