How Daylight Saving Time May Affect Neuropathy Patients

How Daylight Saving Time May Affect Neuropathy Patients
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Daylight saving time marks the seasonal transition between the colder months and the warmer months. The “fall back” transition to colder temperatures gifts the population with an extra hour of sleep. Conversely, the “spring forward” transition moves clocks forward, removing that extra hour.

For familial amyloid polyneuropathy patients and those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy symptoms, daylight saving time may mean more than a lost or gained hour of sleep. The loss of an hour of sleep synonymous with the transition from winter to spring may present an array of health problems.

Why sleeping patterns matter

In a previous column, I presented the circular correlation between sleep and peripheral neuropathy symptoms: The less sleep a patient receives, the more likely they are to experience painful symptoms. The increased pain can inhibit sleep and cause patients to have further restless nights.

This became a recurring theme in my family as my mother-in-law prefers to stay up late and watch television. When extended family visits, she will stay up until 5 or 6 a.m. chatting. This proves to be detrimental to her condition as she occasionally experiences greater pain than usual, ultimately leading to a need to increase treatments such as gabapentin and intravenous immunoglobulin.

Daylight saving time may potentially disrupt sleeping patterns through the shortening of nighttime hours. For neuropathy patients, this may result in a decrease in sleep quantity and a potential for increased inflammation in peripheral limbs.

How to prepare for daylight saving time

To reduce the risk of increased neuropathy pain due to lack of sleep, patients and caregivers must be diligent when planning for the change in hours. A 2010 study found that sleep deprivation may present a risk to cardiovascular health, and a 2002 study linked autonomic neuropathy to increased cardiovascular risk.

Both studies suggest that adequate amounts of good quality sleep is important for neuropathy patients to maintain good cardiovascular health. As neuropathy patients may be at risk for poor overall cardiovascular health, they must receive a good night’s sleep to keep blood flowing to their peripheral limbs.

Patients and caregivers must plan for the change in hours that may affect sleeping patterns. This may be accomplished by adjusting sleeping hours ahead of daylight saving time, especially in the spring. The extra time allotted for sleeping may help patients adjust to the change.

Patients may also want to consider being less active in the days approaching a decrease in sleeping hours, as it may help them become more relaxed when they need more sleep. Another way to prepare for daylight saving time is to reduce screen time and exposure to blue light before the clock changes.

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

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