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Daylight saving: More sun, but maybe more danger too

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The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer – about two hours and 40 minutes longer compared to late December, according to the Star Tribune’s Paul Douglas.

With daylight saving time set to kick in tonight, that sun will be touching our ever-warming heads at a later time than we’ve seen in months.

But there may be a catch to this sudden shift: It could be dangerous for your health.

Forum Press reports the one-hour spring ahead can increase your risk of a heart attack during the first three weekdays following the transition.

And that’s not all.

New York’s local CBS station said there are more workplace and driving accidents after the switch. USA Today spoke with a professor at the University of Washington that said the workplace injuries also seem to be more severe after daylight saving kicks in. And he notices less productive employees, who surf the Web rather than get actual work done.

"I have not seen any benefits of this change," Christopher Barnes told the publication. "I've only seen a downside in my data and the other studies."

That goes the same for students in school, the L.A. Times said, as one study found students were sleepier than usual during the day for an entire three weeks after the switch. It even suggested no tests should be given the week – or maybe even weeks – following the shift (which the paper notes “just might make this the favorite scientific study ever on high school campuses”).

According to Forum, a study released in 2009 looked at the effects on mine workers. It found they came into work with 40 minutes less sleep than normal, and experienced 5.7 percent more injuries at work the day after daylight saving goes into effect.

Many of these issues can be attributed to lack of sleep, CBS New York said – natural sleep patterns are disrupted, leading to “mental fog” the next day, as Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Julia Samton put it to the station.

So what’s the best solution? Prepare your mind and body early.

Samton suggested setting your clock back in 15-minute increments starting four or five days beforehand.

Psychologist Stanley Coren with the University of British Columbia, seemed a bit less understanding when speaking with USA Today. His advice to beat the sleepy daylight saving blues?

"Go to bed an hour earlier," Coren said. "It's not rocket science."

USA Today does note, all of these elevated risks do wear off over time, usually by the end of the week.

If you’re still skeptical, and this all sounds a little ridiculous, take it from the premiere fact-checking site in the nation: Politifact. They dug into a claim by Joel Keehn, a senior editor at Consumer Reports Health Blog, that said "The hour of sleep you will likely lose ... might pose a few health risks, at least for a couple of days."

Politifact rated that statement True on its Truth-O-Meter – the highest grade a statement can get.

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