Daylight Savings Time has been used for over a hundred years, and in 70% of countries around the globe. This means that the vast majority of people are used to it, but we are also used to the inconvenience of putting the clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall. Most of us will understand the inconvenience that can come with losing an hour of sleep when we put the clocks forward, although the extra hour we get in the fall can make up for it. Losing an hour of sleep disturbs your circadian rhythm, and has been linked to less productivity at work, fatigue, and more serious issues such as increased road traffic accidents, miscarriages, and even depression and suicide. Is Daylight Savings Time really the best thing for us? We’ve listed some of the main ways it can mess with your body and brain.
Losing an hour of sleep at night can affect you in more ways than you think, particularly if you work the same hours every day and are already in a good routine. Even though you’ve lost an hour of sleep, you most likely won’t be allowed to begin work an hour later the following morning – life needs to go on! It may not seem like a huge amount of time, but only getting seven hours sleep when your body is used to eight, for example, can have a bigger impact than you think. In fact, studies have found that employees tend to be less productive the day after, spending more time engaging in non-work activities or scrolling through social media. If you have a busy life, the tiredness that comes with losing an hour’s sleep can make you feel even more sluggish and lethargic.
#2. Sleep Issues:
Any kind of disruption to your body’s fragile circadian rhythm can be difficult to overcome, leaving you tired and even experiencing sleep issues for the next few days or even weeks. For people who already suffer from sleep issues such as insomnia, losing an hour of sleep can have some very negative effects. If you’re already struggling to sleep at night, the two important things that you need, natural sleep vitamins and an hour of the precious sleep that you do get taken from you.
#3. Mental Health:
Your circadian rhythm is closely linked to your mental health, so any disruption to it can lead to increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental issues. If you already suffer from mental illnesses, dealing with the inconvenience of losing an hour of sleep can trigger symptoms and leave you feeling worse. On the other hand, the ‘fall back’ time change during the colder months leads to longer, darker nights and has been linked to increased depression and suicide rates. Darker nights can also significantly affect anybody who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is triggered by the change in seasons.
#4. Increased Traffic and Workplace Accidents:
There’s no denying that lighter evenings can make the roads safer, but for the few days after the clocks go forward, the resulting tiredness and fatigue can lead to an increased rate of accidents in various settings. In fact, the single hour of sleep lost during DST in the spring has been found to increase the fatal car crash rate in the U.S. by 5.4-7.6 percent for a full six days following the change. One researcher estimated that it resulted in around 300 extra deaths on the road over a ten-year period. In the workplace, the resulting sleep deprivation of DST leads to an increased rate of workplace injuries on the Monday after the switch. However, this is not taking into account that although the switch takes place on a weekend, this doesn’t mean that nobody is going to work the following day. In fact, shift workers in the service or healthcare industries, along with those who work in a variety of manual jobs, often work Sunday hours. In addition, those who work in these types of industries are often at a higher risk of workplace injuries than those who work in 9-5 office jobs from Monday to Friday.
#5. Increased Rate of Heart Attack:
An increased likelihood of suffering a heart attack following the spring time change is just one of the ways in which DST can directly affect your physical health. The disruption to your sleep cycle will upset your body’s autonomic nervous system, leading to a slightly higher production of proinflammatory molecules in the body, in addition to a greater level of stress overall due to sleep deprivation. As a result, heart attacks increase by around 2.4% on Monday after DST comes into effect. On the other hand, studies have found that after the fall change when the clocks are put back, there is a 21% decrease in heart attacks the following Tuesday.
#6. Increased Rate of Miscarriage:
Studies have found that in the weeks following the transition to DST during the spring, there is an increase in miscarriages for women who are undergoing in vitro fertilization. Although these statistics mostly held true for those women who had already had a miscarriage previously, researchers suggest that the disruption to circadian rhythm can have some negative effect on fertility. At this moment, it is not clear whether this effect is down to the increased stress and sleep deprivation changing fertility directly, or due to a hormonal change from a shift in the sleep cycle.
#7. On the Bright Side:
Whilst more and more people are agreeing that Daylight Savings Time is no longer necessary, it’s not all bad. The longer evenings during the spring and summer can have some positive effects, with more people finding the time to get out and exercise or take part in sports thanks to the longer days. In addition, the extra light means that the crime rate is positively affected since it’s more difficult for criminals to get up to no good in broad daylight.
Have you found that Daylight Savings Time has affected you in any of these ways? Let us know in the comments.