7 Little-Known Side Effects of Daylight Saving Time

October 29, 2017

Springing forward can do a lot more damage than just making you sleepy.

Every November, people curl up in their warm beds thanking their lucky stars for that extra hour of sleep. The spring, however, is another story. In March, daylight saving time is not quite so popular, causing people to be pulled from their beds an hour early.

The case against daylight saving time goes far beyond the mild inconvenience many will feel on March 8. It turns out, there is a ton of data that points to the negative effects the change in time has on our bodies. In addition, its energy-saving benefits have been hotly debated.

1. Our bodies may never adjust to the new time

A group of German researchers believes that our bodies never actually adjust to daylight saving time, and that artificially altering our circadian rhythm can be damaging for our health.

Lead researcher, Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, explained, “When you change clocks to daylight saving time, you don’t change anything related to sun time. This is one of those human arrogances — that we can do whatever we want as long as we are disciplined. We forget that there is a biological clock that is as old as living organisms, a clock that cannot be fooled. The pure social change of time cannot fool the clock.”

They found that the body had no trouble adjusting to the ending of daylight saving time in the fall (when we gain an hour), but may never quite makes the adjustment to the change in the spring (when we lose an hour).

2. The time change reduces the duration and ‘efficiency’ of sleep

A 2006 study out of Finland monitored the sleep patterns of people for 10 days surrounding the transition to daylight saving time. They found that the resulting decrease in sleep by about one hour reduced a person’s sleep efficiency by 10 percent. The study concluded that the time change appears to compromise a person’s sleep by decreasing the number of hours he or she slept as well as overall sleep efficiency.

3. It could result in more heart attacks

Scientists looked at the data from patients in Michigan hospitals from 2010 to 2013. They found that on the Monday after daylight saving time went into effect, there were 25 percent more heart attacks than on a standard Monday. What’s really strange is, that didn’t make the total number of heart attacks for the month go up.

Lead author, Dr. Amneet Sandhu, explained, “What’s interesting is that the total number of heart attacks didn’t change the week after daylight saving time. But these events were much more frequent the Monday after the spring time change and then tapered off over the other days of the week. It may mean that people who are already vulnerable to heart disease may be at greater risk right after sudden time changes.”

Another study that took place in Sweden found that the chance of suffering from a heart attack increases during the first three weekdays after the March daylight saving shift.

Both scientists reached the same conclusion. That, based on the findings, those who are at higher risk of heart issues may do better not to have their normal sleep cycles disrupted.

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