Daylight Saving Time brings fatigue, maybe heart attacks

The annual tradition of losing in hour's sleep on night in the spring appeared during the First World War, as a money-saving measure, but these days the time-shift seems only to cost us — in health.

The clocks are about to play a nasty trick on us again with Daylight Saving Time

Don't forget -- the clocks go forward one hour on Sunday! 2:07

The annual tradition of losing an hour's sleep in the spring first appeared during the First World War as a money-saving measure, but these days the time-shift seems to cost us in health.

A 2008 Swedish study found a higher incidence of heart attacks in the first three workdays after the clocks 'spring forward.' 

Researchers chalked it up to a lack of sleep, and did find a similar decrease in the number of heart attacks when clocks 'fall back' later in the year.

There's also a theory about drivers and pedestrians who have lost an hour of sleep creating a potentially-dangerous combination of sleepy people behind the wheel and those on foot being not as sharp as they might normally be.

However, Dr. John Vavrik, a psychologist with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, says that daylight saving time doesn't appear to be as big a factor in crashes as it used to be.

"The good news is that we're seeing less and less of an impact of the DST change. Maybe people are getting the message, or maybe we're just sleep-deprived all the time and so the DST doesn't seem to be making a huge difference anymore."

Daylight savings time is not used everywhere in Canada. Saskatchewan and some parts of B.C. do not adjust their clocks in the spring and fall. (CBC)

The time change can also create confusion between provinces that do adopt the convention, and those that don't. People in Saskatchewan stay on standard time year-round.

Some say the best advice for reducing time-shift fatigue overnight is to exercise, lay off the caffeine before bed, go to bed at a regular time and put down the smartphone.

Another good piece of advice? Set the clocks ahead on Saturday night.

With files from the CBC's Dan Burritt