The Significant Health Risk of Daylight Savings Time

Ross Quade | Health | 20 Mar, 2014 | No Comments

Whether or not you personally enjoy having a longer evening or would prefer to keep your hour of sleep, we lose an hour every year in the spring. Unfortunately, whoever created the concept of daylight saving time did not take into consideration the effect that it might have on people’s well being and health. Here are some health risks that daylight savings times can cause.

Quality and Quantity of Sleep

It’s normal to have those nights when you are unable to sleep properly. Scientists call this not sleeping efficiently. Sleep efficiency is the ratio between the time you spend in bed and the time you spend actually sleeping. Research shows that sleep efficiency decreases after the spring daylight savings time for at least a week and sometimes more. In one study, sleep efficiency was decreased by an average of 10% for five days after the savings. Sleep is lowered by about an hour each night following the time switch. This affects those that are night owls the most.

Traffic Accidents

Research has found that car accidents increase after daylight savings time. This is most likely caused by the drivers being more tired than they regularly are in the days after the time change. This causes traffic accidents to be more common occurrences. Due to this it is advised that you are extremely cautious in the first few days after the time change.

Heart Attacks

There are several studies that indicate that the chances of suffering from a heart attack increase after the first week after the daily savings times starts. This is especially true on the first Monday after the time change. Scientists have not determined exactly why this happens, however there are some potential culprits. For one, becoming sleep deprived due to the daylight savings time can potentially increase heart inflammation. This is directly associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. On top of this, cells contain their own type of biological clock that accepts specific things to occur at specific times. Because of this, when day light savings occurs and we set our watches back one hour, our bodies’ cells do not know that they are supposed to set their own clocks ahead an hour as well. Although your cells will eventually adjust to the lost hour, until this occurs they can get caught off guard, reacting very poorly to the stress of daily life, which they would otherwise be able to deal with.

Physical Activity

Daylight savings time steals an hour of daylight from the mornings and gives it to evenings. One of the main reasons this is done is so that people can gain an hour of extra sunlight during the night and use it to their advantage. However, one study that was published in the Australian Journal of Public Health discovered that people who attempt to use the additional hour in the evening in order to exercise were unable to do so. Researchers asked more than one thousand people about their exercise routines, and almost half of them admitted to changing their routine during daylight saving time. Many people said that they no longer exercised during the morning hours and instead attempted to exercise later into the evening. However, one result that was not foreseen was that the daily exercises were less frequent after daylight saving occurred. About 8% that were surveyed spent the extra hour of daylight to not exercise but to relax instead. This has a direct impact on people’s health, as exercising is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy and running smoothly.

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