Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time may affect you more than you realize.

Extremely tired?  You are not alone.  As we are excited to “spring forward” and receive our extra hour of daylight, there are many negative effects and health risks of Daylight saving time.  And no that is not a typo.  Fun fact of the day: the time change is called “daylight saving time” and not “daylight savings time.”  First, some history behind Daylight saving time.  The United States began observing Daylight saving time (DST) during World War I as a way to preserve energy.  We all love the extra sun in the summer, but many Americans find the time change outdated and unnecessary. An online petition even exists titled End Daylight Saving Time, which argues that the change is more burden than it’s worth.

Here are some important things to know about DST, as Daylight saving time most likely affects you more than you realize.

1.  Sleep is negatively affected by Daylight saving time

This may seem obvious, but everyone responds to Daylight saving time in a different way.  I have been up all night, which prompted me to do some research and write this article.  I made certain that I woke up by 8:30am on Sunday (which really felt like 7:30am), but I still  tossed and turned all last night.  I eventually gave up on sleep and began writing this blog.  During my early morning research I found several articles on the negative effects DST has on sleeping patterns.

“Transitions into and out of DST can disturb people’s sleeping patterns, for example, and make them more restless at night. Night owls tend to be more bothered by the time changes than people who like mornings, Finnish researchers concluded in 2008.”

After learning this, the next time Daylight saving time arrives I will not to work before I sleep, and make sure I drink herbal non caffeinated tea before bed.  I also had a beer earlier in the evening with my husband after a long day of house hunting.  Alcohol fragments your sleep patterns, and most likely played a role in my sleepless night.  Be aware that Daylight saving time may be an evening where you will need to bring out all the sleep remedies that work for you.  You should always be sure to avoid unhealthy sleep habits.

2.  Daylight saving time leads to an increase of heart attacks

Losing one night sleep may not be the worst thing that can happen to you, but a study published in 2008 concluded that there was a spike in heart attacks as well.  According to a University of Alabama at Birmingham expert, Daylight saving time leads to an increased number of heart attacks on Monday.

“The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack.  The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent.”

Professor Martin Young states there is no concrete reason why there is an increase, it could be because of sleep deprivation as well as the body’s circadian clock being thrown off.

3.  Daylight saving time increases workplace injuries and behavioral changes

Studies show that sleep has restorative effects on the brain. In the workplace, loss of sleep can impair cognitive functioning.  Researchers have studied individuals, and determined that those who experience a lack of sleep likely experience a decrease in temporal memory, thinking tasks, and a lack of emotional control.  Many will struggle with alertness and attention at work or school today.

4.  Not all countries and states observe Daylight saving time

Many other countries observe Daylight saving time, but not all do so on the same day. Ben Harder states that this can create confusion for international travelers, business communications, and more.  In 2005, Kazakhstan abolished daylight saving time, citing negative health effects. The country’s government reportedly calculated that 51.6 percent of Kazakhs responded badly to the time change.  Two states—Arizona and Hawaii—and four U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—don’t observe daylight saving time. Indiana adopted DST in 2006.

5.   Fatal car accidents increase the day following DST

Did you notice some odd traffic patterns this morning?  It has been reported that there is a significant increase in the number of automobile accidents in the spring shift to Daylight saving time due to the loss of 1 hour of sleep. The spring shift to daylight saving time, and the loss of one hour of sleep, results in an average increase in traffic accidents of approximately 8 percent. The subtle changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms can alter human alertness and might increase the risk of potentially fatal car accidents.

6.  Researchers have found Daylight saving time reduces lethal car crashes in the long run

Researchers also argue that daylight saving time actually result reduces crashes in the long run by increasing visibility for drivers in the morning.

How to combat Daylight saving time today:

Web MD provides tips for what you can you do to reset your internal clock to adapt to the time changes.

The daylight-saving time change will force most of us to spring forward and advance our clocks one hour. This effectively moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, giving us those long summer nights. But waking up Monday morning may not be so easy, having lost an hour of precious sleep and perhaps driving to work in the dark with an extra jolt of java. How time changes actually affect you depends on your own personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle.  Moving our clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue — light — for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. In doing so, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. How well we adapt to this depends on several adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself today if you are feeling more sleepy than usual.  Take your time, drink your coffee, and know that you will be adjusted to the change in no time.


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