Dr. Denise Sorrentino. (IA Heart Center photo)

Iowans may be more grouchy than usual this week, as they’re not getting enough sleep due to the time change, but there’s also a greater health risk from springing forward an hour.

Dr. Denise Sorrentino a cardiologist with the Iowa Heart Center in Ames, says it’s only 60 minutes, but that can be enough to cause serious trouble. “We see the big rise in atrial fibrillation rates, heart attack, stroke, and even motor vehicle accidents,” she says, “often related to inadequate sleep and just bad decision making while driving the vehicle for that first seven to ten days.”

Some of us adjust to the shift in time more quickly than others. Sorrentino says our bodies get used to going to bed and getting up at a certain time, and it’s a jolt to our system to move it. “That 60 minutes can change what we call the circadian rhythm, which is the rhythm at which our blood pressure and heart rate change in the early morning hours to help wake us up,” Sorrentino says. “And people can have difficulties with sleep, blood pressure can become elevated and a lot of people can also feel very groggy, have poor decision making and jetlag.”

One thing that can help us to adjust is to start adjusting our bedtime for a week or so before the time change, though that doesn’t do us any good right now. “Usually, it’s a week for adults to adjust,” she says, “and to really make an effort to be out in sunlight, if available, while the day is ongoing to help that body’s circadian rhythm adjust for this hour change.”

The best remedy at this juncture is to simply try and get more rest, and if your schedule permits, a power nap here and there.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)