The Impact of Shifting Time: The Health Consequences of Daylight Saving Time

by Gabriel Martinez
daylight saving time health effects

The forthcoming Sunday promises additional slumber for those who rise with the dawn, as the clocks roll back granting an extra hour of sleep before the day begins in earnest.

However, this benefit is accompanied by a drawback: In the following week, the majority of the U.S. will see the daylight wane and nightfall encroach before the workday concludes. This transition ushers in standard time on November 5, replacing daylight saving time until March 10.

Well before the witching hour strikes, adjustments for the impending time shift should commence. When the clock strikes 2 a.m. early Sunday, it will retreat to 1 a.m. To keep pace, manual timepieces such as those in vehicles and on kitchen appliances should be dialed back Saturday night, unless they’re programmed to update autonomously.

The semiannual time shift is more than a mere inconvenience, potentially disturbing sleep patterns and causing scheduling conflicts. Health professionals warn of the more grave implications for wellbeing.

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The prevalent shortfall in American sleep is exacerbated by daylight saving time adjustments, according to Dr. Phyllis Zee of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. She notes that while gaining an hour in the fall is less taxing than losing one in the spring, it still affects both sleep duration and quality.

The repercussions of chronic sleep shortage are far-reaching, potentially escalating stress hormone levels that elevate heart rate and blood pressure, alongside inflammatory markers. Even a single hour’s disruption can impact multitasking abilities, alertness, and physical coordination, increasing susceptibility to mishaps.

Molly Hart of AAA’s Auto Club Group highlights a likely surge in vehicular incidents post time-change, cautioning drivers to be particularly vigilant during the darker early evenings and potential fatigue.

Regions including Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time.

There have been legislative efforts in Congress to cease the daylight saving time shifts and maintain it year-round.

AP correspondent Donna Warder provides further insight on this issue.

In March 2022, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act, though its progress was halted in the House. Senator Marco Rubio reintroduced the bill in March of the current year, which subsequently was assigned to a committee but has since seen no advancement.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about daylight saving time health effects

How does the end of daylight saving time affect sleep patterns?

The end of daylight saving time can disrupt sleep patterns as people adjust to the time change. According to sleep experts, while gaining an extra hour in the fall is generally less challenging than losing an hour in the spring, it can still significantly impact the quantity and quality of sleep. This shift can lead to difficulty in multitasking, reduced alertness, and impaired balance, which may increase the risk of accidents.

Can the shift from daylight saving time to standard time have implications for heart health?

Yes, the transition can have implications for heart health. Chronic sleep deprivation associated with the time change can lead to increased levels of stress hormones that raise heart rate and blood pressure. There is also an increase in chemicals that cause inflammation, which can contribute to cardiovascular strain.

What potential safety concerns are associated with the end of daylight saving time?

Safety concerns include an increase in road accidents following the time change. With the earlier onset of darkness, drivers may find themselves commuting in the dark when they are more likely to be fatigued, which can lead to a higher chance of traffic collisions.

Are there any regions in the U.S. that do not participate in daylight saving time?

Yes, there are regions that do not observe daylight saving time, including Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most of Arizona.

What is the Sunshine Protection Act?

The Sunshine Protection Act is a bipartisan bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate in March 2022 but stalled in the House. The bill, which was reintroduced by Senator Marco Rubio in March of the current year, aims to make daylight saving time permanent throughout the United States. However, as of the latest updates, it remains in committee without further progress.

More about daylight saving time health effects

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Mike Anderson November 4, 2023 - 10:45 am

honestly, not a fan of daylight saving it always takes me weeks to adjust, my sleep is all over the place and its just not worth the extra hour of daylight in my opinion

Tom Grey November 4, 2023 - 1:28 pm

seems like every year we talk about the pros and cons of daylight saving time and nothing ever changes, congress needs to just make a decision and stick with it

John Miller November 4, 2023 - 9:58 pm

really interesting article but i think you could’ve dug deeper into how the body’s circadian rhythms are affected by daylight savings, like how does it really mess with our internal clocks over the long term

Rachel Green November 4, 2023 - 10:21 pm

i thought the part about increased road accidents was particularly scary, never really thought about how changing the clock could lead to more crashes

Sara Smith November 5, 2023 - 7:04 am

btw, there’s a typo in the paragraph about the Sunshine Protection Act, it was actually reintroduced in March this year, not last year – please get your facts straight before publishing


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