Its that time of year where we “fall back” for daylight savings time. We set the clocks back an hour so that we can have more daylight in the morning. However, how healthy is it for us?

Daylight savings time began in Europe during World War 1 and made its way to the rest of the world during World War 2 and the 1970’s oil crisis. It is said that it saves on energy but the actual numbers depend on the geographical region of the country. DST definitely has some benefits. In the northern regions the sunlight helps people drive in the morning and makes the commutes safer. It also cuts on the requirements for electrical lights. This can have an affect on health and energy consumption. However, there could be another side to this story. Those who are against DST are showing evidence that it may not be healthy. Also, technological advancements make the old benefits more obsolete so the negatives may now outweigh the benefits.

How does daylight savings time impact human health?

Lack Of Sleep May Have A Negative Impact On Students
Scientists found that sleep declined by about thirty minutes during the week on the days following DST. When you add this up it equals a total loss of about 2 hours and 42 minutes. This study was performed on 35 high school students. This lack of sleep could make student performance decline and have a negative impact on performance. Students are already under enough stress and this could be adding more.

Heart Attacks and Cardiovascular Health is linked

When a person changes sleep patterns it can disrupt the chronobiological rhythms that influence sleep. Researchers found a spike in heart attacks two weeks before and after DST in a study that was published in 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine. They found that this increase in heart attacks was reversed in the fall. Changing up the bodies natural cycle may have a negative impact on heart health.

Autumn Transition May Lead To Depression

Researchers that write in the journal Epidemiology found that the transition from summer to standard time was linked with depression. They found that the shorter days and the “advancement of sunset” and “coming of a long period of short days” may have a link with depressive episodes.

Loss Of Sleep Is Linked To More Workplace Injuries During DST

Between the 1980’s and 200o’s there were 3.6 more injuries at work on Mondays following the time switch for DST. This was reported by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration. This contributed to a big loss in employee workdays. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, more then 2,600 workdays were lost.

Drivers Are More Likely To Be Involved In A Car Accident

Sleepy drivers were more likely to be involved in a car accident in the days following DST. Maxim Artemchuk/Shutterstock

According to a study published in 2016 in the American Economic Journal, sleepiness associated with DST was related to more then thirty deaths. These deaths are believed to be caused by sleep deprivation and have a social coast of about $275 million a year.

Does DST Make Us Sick?

It is still highly debatable weather DST makes us sick or not. A person can find evidence supporting both sides of the story. In one study, Cornell researchers did not find much evidence to support that DST has a link with population health in the spring. They did find that there was more of an impact on health in the fall. They found that the increase in sleep by one hour slightly improved health.

Several governments around the world have been working to end the practice of DST. An international survey of EU citizens has shown that they support stopping the practice last year. However, not every country participates in DST and many that do change times on different days. More studies need to be performed to fully understand the impact on health.

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