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As daylight saving time begins on March 10, Americans are reminded of the potential health problems that can arise, including headaches. Dr. Fred Cohen, a headache specialist, warns that changes to the sleep cycle can trigger headaches in anyone, not just those who regularly suffer from them. The transition can be particularly tough in the spring, as losing one hour of sleep can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, mood disturbances, and other health issues. Studies have shown that there are more fatal car accidents, medical errors, and hospital admissions during this time.

One of the reasons why daylight saving time can lead to headaches is because changes to the sleep cycle can disrupt the body’s natural process of reducing inflammation. When we are awake, our body uses messenger molecules that produce waste products, which can lead to inflammation. During sleep, the body cleans itself up and removes these waste products. If this process is altered, it can result in inflammation, which may trigger headaches and migraines. Seasonal changes, especially in the spring, can also affect biological clocks, hormone levels, and body temperature, all of which are linked to cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches, described as bouts of extreme, stabbing pain around the eye and temple, can be triggered by changes in the amount of daylight and irregular circadian rhythms. Cluster headaches are considered one of the most painful things humans can experience and are often mistaken for allergies or sinusitis. To avoid headaches during the time change, it is essential to adjust your sleep schedule accordingly. If you normally get seven hours of sleep, make sure to maintain that amount even after the time change. Going to bed one hour earlier until you adjust can help prevent headaches.

According to Cohen, good headache health is closely related to good sleep health. Maintaining a regular sleep routine and ensuring you get quality sleep can help prevent headaches during the transition to daylight saving time. While the spring forward can be challenging for many, taking steps to adjust your sleep pattern can make a significant difference in preventing headaches and other health issues. Cluster Headache Awareness Day is recognized on March 21, as many sufferers experience reactivation of attacks during the seasonal shift in the spring and fall. The increased awareness of cluster headaches and their link to daylight saving time serves as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing sleep and overall health.

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