The Disease Called Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Saving Time and All of its Effects  

Losing sleep is never a good thing. In most cases, though it only affects one person, and it’s usually due to something that person did or did not do. When it comes to Daylight savings time, larger groups of people can be affected, and not in a good way.

Daylight savings time, especially during the times that it occurs, (or DST for short) has sparked a lot of debates over the years. There are a few origin stories connected to DST, but most of them can be traced back to a couple of people wanting time to fit their needs. Benjamin Franklin first toyed with the idea but there are no substantial claims to back this up. The first person who really had any say in the matter was George Vernon Hudson a scientist and entomologist from New Zealand who likes spending time outside looking for bugs so much that he decided to adjust the time to better suit his needs.

The first official use of DST was introduced in 1916 when people used it to conserve coal reserves during the wartimes. When people had more daylight during the evening they used less energy to heat their house. Over the next few years, most of the countries around the world accepted this as standard.

Interestingly enough, most of the countries in Africa and Asia have still not adapted to daylight savings time. Countries in the far north have not accepted this practice at all. Due to their location, the shifts in daytime are so erratic that it makes no sense for them to integrate DST.

In America, the biggest backers of the idea of DST are sporting goods manufacturers and retail chains. If there is more daylight, there may be more people outside partaking in various sporting activities. Also, they are willing to spend more time outside the house visiting various shopping malls and spending their hard-earned cash.

Recent studies have shown that the amount of energy people save by using daylight saving time is probably not even worth it. At most countries save one percent. Another big drawback of daylight savings time is its effect on people’s metabolisms. The sudden shift in the internal clocks leads to various health issues over the next few days. The human body undergoes a hefty change over the period of 24 hours because it does not receive as much light as it did previously, and because of the reduced amount of sleep. An hour shift in your daily sleeping schedule can have various adverse effects.

The Biggest Issues Stemming from DST 

Researchers estimate that the loss of one hour of sleep is directly connected to a rise in fatal crash rates. It is estimated that the number of these sleep-related incidents rises by approximately six percent for the following six days. Over a course of 10 years, this amounts to 302 more deaths.

The workplace is also highly affected by the switch. Because of sleep deprivation, the number of work-related injuries rises by 5.7 percent. But this is not the sole reason DST affects the workplace in a negative way. The bigger issue is the lost days due to the work-related injuries. More than 2500 work days are lost because of this. On the other hand, in autumn when people get one hour more of sleep there is no known increase in work-related injuries.

The effects of DST are felt in the stock market as well. People working in the stock trade are already dealing with sleep deprivation. It is reported that the traders close about 0.3 lower than usual immediately after the switch.

But one of the biggest if not the biggest problem of DST is its effect on people’s autonomic nervous system. Since the body is more stressed because of the loss of sleep, it creates more pro-inflammatory molecules. This, in turn, leads to a 20 percent increase in the number of heart attacks that occur on the Monday following daylight savings time. The fall change decreases this risk by 21 percent.

Women who are undergoing IVF also have a higher chance of miscarrying. The study behind this is pretty small but a change in the circadian rhythm has been proven to affect fertility. What is not clear is whether this happens due to sleep deprivation, or some hormonal misbalance caused by the lack of sleep.

Fun fact, judges working on the Monday after DST are more likely to give out longer sentences.

There Are Positives Though 

Because of DST Americans on average spend more time on outside activities in the months following DST. On average people spend a whole 30 minutes more outside, while spending 10 minutes fewer when watching TV.

Daylight savings time also has a positive effect on crime rates in America. Without the cover of darkness, people are less likely to partake in criminal activities. There is an estimated seven percent decrease in robberies following DST. The percentage increases to some 20 percent for robberies committed during the night.

So, it’s not all bad, but people have to moan about something, and sleep is definitely worth moaning about.

What Do You Think?

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