Daylight Saving Time’s Toll on Health: What You Need to Know

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daylight saving time

As daylight saving time (DST) comes to an end on Sunday, November 5, it’s important to understand its impact on health and how to mitigate its effects. Let’s explore!

The Hidden Costs of Daylight Saving Time on Your Health

DST, a practice of setting clocks ahead during spring and summer to maximize daylight, has both physical and emotional consequences on individuals.

While some societies do not observe DST, it remains prevalent in North America, Europe, and parts of South America. Initially adopted over a century ago to conserve energy during winter, many countries have started questioning its merits due to its potential negative impact on people.

Research from 2020 revealed that the transition back to standard time, or “falling back” an hour, was associated with a 6% increase in car accidents, including a 15% rise in freeway crashes and various other types of accidents.

The disruption to sleep patterns and circadian rhythms caused by DST can lead to health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, obesity, mental health issues, and reduced cognitive performance. Furthermore, insufficient sleep contributes to an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

As we move away from DST, the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) becomes a concern. SAD, affecting up to 5% of adults with an additional 10-20% experiencing milder forms of winter blues, is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, loss of interest, low libido, and hopelessness.

9The reduction in sunlight due to the time change is believed to lead to chemical shifts in the brain, with melatonin levels being linked to SAD.

To counteract the effects of SAD, experts recommend maximizing exposure to sunlight, taking vitamin D supplements (which the body produces when exposed to sunlight), and considering light therapy with UV lamps during overcast months.

To prepare one’s body for daylight saving time, Dr. Charles Kinsella of Franciscan Health suggests several methods. It’s advisable to get as much natural light as possible before DST begins, gradually adjust bedtime earlier each night leading up to the time change, and limit caffeine intake to combat daytime sleepiness.

Napping should be avoided as it can disrupt the sleep cycle, and efforts should be made to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. Reducing screen time before bed is another important step in promoting a healthy sleep routine.

In conclusion, the end of daylight saving time is a mixed blessing, providing an extra hour of sleep while potentially affecting physical and emotional well-being. Understanding these effects and preparing for the transition can help individuals minimize the health risks associated with DST.


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