Sunday morning at 2:00am on March 12th Daylight savings time (DST) officially began for 2023. Today you are no doubt feeling the loss of an hour of sleep, but what is worse is our internal clock (also known as our circadian rhythm) does not necessarily adjust quickly. Thus, we go to bed an hour before our body feels like it’s time and can’t go to sleep for an hour. Yet our alarm clocks still rings at 6:00am, which to our bodies feels like 5:00am. This is an explanation from Healthline:
“Because we lose one hour of sleep, there is a possibility of feeling tired because of this change,” said Dr. Robert Segal, a cardiologist and co-founder of Labfinder.com in New York.
“For some, it might not mean much. But for others, it can cause harm, such as an increased risk of heart attack, workplace injuries due to lack of sleep, or even traffic accidents. Hospitals even noted that the number of stroke hospitalizations increase,” he said.
DST is seriously bad for your health. Consider this, the week after DST begins there is an increased risk in:
- Cardiovascular disease, with a 24% higher risk of heart attacks
- Injuries, including a 6% spike in fatal car accidents
- Stroke rate, which increases by 8%
- Mental health and cognitive issues, with an 11% spike in depressive episodes
- Digestive and immune-related diseases, such as colitis, which increase by 3% in females over age 60
DST occurs between March and November when most U.S. states and some countries spring their clocks forward an hour to save an hour of daylight. Moving your clocks back in the fall (which makes no sense) provides people with an extra hour of sleep, albeit a brief respite before your body adjusts. In the Spring people are setting their clocks forward an hour losing an hour of sleep which seemingly takes much longer to adjust.
“We know that sleep deprivation is bad for your physical and cognitive health,” notes Dr. Zee. She explains that the transition to DST can create short-term health problems — sleep issues, fatigue and changes in blood pressure — that feel like prolonged jet lag.
“Late starters,” or those who wake up later in the morning, as well as teenagers, who tend to be night owls, are more vulnerable to these effects because they already sleep through more hours of natural morning light. DST can further throw off their circadian rhythms.
Additionally, DST can have long-term health effects. Studies show that DST is linked to:
DST has also been linked to increased risk of developing certain disorders, from cognitive and mental health issues to digestive and heart diseases. And, if you already have these conditions, DST can make them worse.
The health problems mentioned above is enough to make me want to hit the snooze and sleep in for another hour. A bill in Congress tried to make DST permanent back in 2022. I wrote about it last year. Everyone in Congress agrees the status quo is bad. However, the bill got nowhere because Members of Congress couldn’t agree on whether standard time or daylight savings time should be made permanent. My thought is that we need daylight more in Winter because we’re already short of daylight hours. The complaint against year around DST, however, is those poor children would have to go to school in the dark (always think of the children). Back when DST was instituted in Winter 75 years ago there was an increase in drowsy children getting hurt by careless, drowsy drivers. What has changed in 75 years is that nobody seems to walk to school these days.