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Daylight Savings Time Costs You Extra — in Money and Health! Part 2
by Joseph Mercola, MD


ClockDaylight Savings, Does It Really 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. According to Michael Downing, a teacher at Tufts University and the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time: Daylight saving is ... a boon to purveyors of barbecue grills, sports and recreation equipment, and the petroleum industry, as gasoline consumption increases every time we increase the length of the daylight saving period.

Daylight Savings Might Be Jacking Up Your Energy Bill Each Year

According to the National Bureau of Standards, DST has virtually no effect on energy usage. A 2007 report by the California Energy Commission’s Demand Analysis Office also found that daylight saving time “had little or no effect on energy consumption in California.”

Some studies even suggest it actually wastes energy—and quite a lot of it at that! A story reported by the Wall Street Journal back in 2008 highlighted these findings: Up until 2006, only 15 of Indiana's 92 counties adhered to daylight savings time. Following complaints from residents who struggled from being out of sync with businesses and friends in neighboring counties, the Indiana Legislature finally mandated daylight savings time be enacted statewide. This presented economics researchers with an excellent opportunity to compare energy usage before and after adoption of DST, to see if and how much money was really being saved. As it turned out, the answer was none. In fact, DST cost Indiana residents millions of dollars in added energy costs each year!

So What Can You Do?

Let’s face it, as much as you and I may disagree with DST, there is little to no likelihood that our collective objections will do anything to stop it. So what can we do? My strategy, and the one that I strongly encourage you to adopt, is to seriously commit to getting the highest quality and longest sleep you can possibly get. For decades I prided myself on getting by on five hours of sleep or less. I gradually changed that to between six and seven hours, deluding myself into believing that because I was so healthy I could do it.

Finally by the time I hit 60, I began to realize that my perception of sleep was seriously distorted and that I need to carefully reevaluate it. Very similar to being unaware of the dangers of prolonged excessive sitting as being every bit as pernicious as not exercising at all. So in the past six months I have been able to increase my sleep to 8.5 hours per night.

Since my regular sleep is about 8.5 hours, when I travel and am forced to cut back my sleep to five hours or so, I’m relatively insulated from the damage of intermittent lack of sleep. In some ways I suspect that our ancient ancestors never consistently slept 8-9 hours so, just like intermittent fasting, we likely do just fine with intermittent sleep disruptions. But I sincerely believe that it’s crucial to understand intermittent. I think sleep disruptions should be the rare exception when your personal circumstances limit you from sleeping the more ideal 8-9 hours. Many recent studies have s shown that one of the most potent improvements in professional athletes was merely increasing their sleep by one to two hours, which allowed their bodies to get more full recovery.

Sleeping Well Is Critical for Good Health

Sleep problems are epidemic in the US, both among kids and adults. A recent review of the research suggests most people, teens and older, need right around eight hours of sleep per night. Ideally, you should sleep enough hours that your energy is sustained throughout the day without artificial stimulation. Short-term sleep deprivation—such as what most experience when time “springs forward” is associated with:
• Memory and cognitive impairment
• Impaired performance and alertness
• Occupational injuries
• Automobile injuries

Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with: increased blood pressure, heart rate, blood clotting, and C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker associated with deadly heart attacks. Shift work is also known to dramatically increase all-cause mortality. According to Clinical Psychologist and sleep specialist Rubin Naiman, PhD, sleeping less than six hours per night may double your risk of angina, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

Sleeping less than six hours per night may also increase your risk for diabetes by impairing the way your body responds to insulin. Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance, occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly, causing your blood sugar levels to rise to unhealthy levels. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type-2 diabetes, as well as a risk factor in many other chronic diseases.

How to Protect Yourself During the ‘Spring-Forward’

There is very little good to be said about switching to daylight savings time. Research points to a long list of adverse outcomes, including increased heart attack risk, increased automobile accidents, lost productivity at work, increased chances of getting sick, and even higher suicide rates. There is also little evidence to suggest that DST reduces energy usage, which was its original intent.

But in addition to the strong recommendation of increasing your sleep to 8-9 hours on a consistent basis, there are some other things you can do to mitigate the effects of the time change – at least until the powers that be decide to get rid of it altogether. University of Alabama Associate Professor Martin Young suggests the following natural strategies to help your body resync after the time change:

• Wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday and Sunday, to minimize the impact of getting up earlier on Monday morning
• Go outside in the sunlight in the early morning
• Exercise in the mornings over the weekend, in accordance with your overall level of health and fitness
• Consider setting your clock ahead on Friday evening, allowing an extra day to adjust over the weekend

I generally agree with his suggestions, to which I would add the following:

• Be particularly mindful of using electronic devices in the days prior to the switch-over. Research on teens shows that using electronics for four hours during the day can increase your risk of needing more than an hour to fall asleep by nearly 50 percent. Using any device for more than two hours per day increases the likelihood of needing more than an hour to fall asleep by 20 percent. So, if you’ve ever considered “unplugging” for a day or two, the weekend of the DST switch-over is a perfect time to turn everything off, or cut down your use of electronics to a bare minimum so that you can optimize your sleep.

• Pay attention to your diet, making sure you are consuming plenty of fresh, whole foods, preferably organic, and minimal amounts of processed foods and fast foods; keep your sugar consumption very low, especially fructose. I invite you to review our total nutrition plan here.
• Practice good sleep hygiene, including sleeping in complete darkness, checking your bedroom for EMFs, and keeping your bedroom temperature no higher than 70 degrees.
• Optimize your vitamin D levels.
• Manage your stress with whatever stress-busting techniques work for you.
• Consider supplementing with melatonin if you have trouble sleeping.
During daylight savings time, making sure you’re getting enough sleep may be more important than ever. One of the keys to optimizing your sleep is going to bed early enough, because if you have to get up at 6:30am, you’re just not going to get enough sleep if you go to bed after midnight. Chances are you’re getting at least 30 minutes less sleep than you think, as most people do not fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow.



Dr. Joseph Mercola finished his family practice residency in 1985 and was trained by the conventional model. In his first years of private practice, he treated many symptoms with prescription drugs and was actually a paid speaker for the drug companies. But as he 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. He’s also written two NY Times bestselling books, and has had frequent appearances on national media.