Studies Explain How Daylight Saving Time Affects Health

An extra hour added to your day seems like it can be beneficial, but is it?

Daylight Saving Time, or DST, is a system the U.S. and many countries around the world implement to decrease electricity usage for eight months, and then go back to standard time for four months to take advantage of the sunlight. During spring, the clock goes forward. The sun shines longer during the summer season, so people can depend on natural daylight rather than turning on their lights. When fall hits, the clock goes back an hour, allowing the sun to rise at an earlier time. 

The system has been highly debated. And here’s why. The amount of energy consumption concerns scientists and circadian biologists on whether the time change is worth our human health. Studies show that our sleep patterns and overall health is affected by losing an hour of afternoon daylight.

frustrated person trying to sleep

Here’s how:

Adjusting to time messes with sleep, making it more of an issue for people who are sleep derived. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. sleep less than seven hours a night, and more than half of teenagers don’t get their eight hours of sleep on weeknights. A study done in the U.S. even showed that people don’t ever catch up on their sleep because of the switch. Sleep deprivation causes stress hormone levels to rise, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure. 

Heart attacks rise. They’re more common to occur in the mornings, and studies have revealed that heart attacks rise a bit more on Mondays after clocks jump an hour forward in the spring- which is a time when people are waking up an hour earlier than usual. This issue tends to happen to those who are already having an existing heart condition.

Not feeling as alert once daylight saving time hits? You’re not alone. Many studies have found that the beginning of daylight saving time in the springtime causes an increase in car accidents, linking back to people being not as vigilant, which is possible factor to missing those extra hours of sleep. 

An hour difference also messes with your eating habits, not that shocking right? Higher rates of obesity are linked to the change and even diabetes. Our “body clock” no longer syncs with what our watch is telling us, and that messes with the way we care for our internal body, which can even lead to depression.


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