Daylight Savings Time Costs You Extra — in Money and Health! Part 1
We just went through that time of year again—moving our clocks an hour ahead; losing a precious hour of sleep in the process. For many, the time change associated with daylight savings time (DST) also means spending several days or even weeks feeling generally off-kilter.
As reported by Prevent Disease: A study, published in 2007... combined surveys from 55,000 people in central Europe with data on 50 individuals’ sleeping and wakefulness patterns for eight weeks around the shifts to and from daylight saving time. The researchers found people never fully adjust their circadian rhythms to the hour shift associated with daylight saving time (or, as it is known in Europe, summer time). Springing ahead by an hour, however, was most difficult for night owls – people prone to wake up and go to sleep late, they found.”
The issue of whether daylight savings time (DST) should be abolished comes up at regular intervals, and for good reason. Daylight savings time is intended to give you more access to daylight hours, thereby reducing energy costs and promotinghealthy outdoor activities, and for nearly a century countries around the world have moved their clocks forward in the Spring and backward in the Fall.
But is it really worth it? There doesn’t appear to be any good reason for this time tinkering in today’s modern age, and a number of countries, and even regions within countries, have opted out of DST. Areas that do not have DST include: the northern part of Brazil, Saskatchewan (Canada), large portions of Australia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the state of Arizona.
Daylight Savings Time Is Rough on Your Health
The research is quite clear on the health effects of this meddling with time. In short, it’s not good for you, and spikes in both heart attacks and suicide in the days following daylight savings attest to the stark reality of such findings.The adverse health effects of losing an hour of sleep when the clocks move forward – and the ripple-effect it causes for days and weeks afterward— are significant, and really highlight the importance of sleep for mental and physical functioning.
The Monday Cardiac Phenomenon has been recognized for some time. More cardiac events occur on Mondays than any other day of the week, and changes in sleep associated with the transition from weekend to work week may play a significant role. When daylight savings gets added into the mix, this risk tends to become even more pronounced One 2012 study found that heart attacks increased by 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday following the time change to DST. Heart attacks decreased by 10 percent on the first Monday and Tuesday after clocks are switched back in the fall.
According to the study’s author, Martin Young, Ph.D: Individuals who are sleepdeprived weigh more and are at an increased risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Sleep deprivation also can alter other body processes, including inflammatory response, which can contribute to a heart attack.
An earlier study found a five percent increase in heart attack in the first three weekdays after the switch to DST. The risk decreased again after clocks were reset back to standard time in the Fall. Kazakhstan abolished DST in 2005, citing health complications as the reason for its decision. In 2011, Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev also cancelled DST due to the “stress and illness” it causes on human biological clocks.
Productivity Goes Down and Accidents Go Up in Days Following DST Change
Studies also show DST causes the entire country to take an economic hit from lost productivity. When you consider that this happens once every year, the cumulative effect on productivity is likely to be very significant.
According to Till Roenneberg, a German chronobiologist, your circadian body clock (which is set by daylight and nighttime darkness) never adjusts to the gaining of an “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the day during daylight saving time. So you may actually remain slightly “off” for the entirety of the DST season.
The consequence of that is that the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness, and is just plain tired, Roenneberg has said.
Data from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also shows an increase in the number and severity of work-related accidents on the Monday following DST. According to one 2009 study, workplace accidents and injuries increase by nearly six percent, and nearly 68 percent more workdays are lost as a result of injuries following the change to DST. Ditto for traffic accidents, which rise by about eight percent on the Monday following the changeover to DST. Fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents increase for the first week after setting the clocks ahead.
Does Daylight Savings Save Energy?
The origin for daylight savings time was rooted in the idea that it could save valuable resources. Ben Franklin appears to have been the first person to suggest the concept, after awaking at 6am one morning in Paris, realizing that the sun was already up well before him. Getting up earlier and going to bed earlier, thereby using less oil to power lights, could save a lot of money, he reasoned. During World War II, the US mandated daylight saving time as a way to save wartime resources.
Alas, times have changed. At best, DST may save you a handful of dollars on your electric bill each year. At worst, you end up paying a lot more.
Trained by the conventional medical model, Dr. Joseph Mercola treated many symptoms with prescription drugs and was actually a paid speaker for the drug companies. But as Dr. Mercola began to experience the failures of this model in his practice, he embraced natural medicine and has had an opportunity over the last thirty years to apply these time-tested approaches successfully with thousands of patients in his clinic. Over 16 years ago he founded Mercola.com to share his experiences with others. The site is the most visited natural health site in the world for the last seven years with nearly two million subscribers. Dr. Mercola has also written two NY Times bestselling books, and has had frequent appearances on national media.