It’s something that most people have gotten used to; shifting their clocks forward in the spring and backwards in the fall, but is it really still helpful?
There’s an increasing argument which suggests that not only is daylight savings time unhelpful, it could actually be harmful for a variety of reasons.
Here’s a look at the effects that daylight savings has, and how it could be more harmful than people realize.
The theory behind it
Daylight savings were originally introduced in 1895 and were a huge benefit when the community was mainly agricultural.
Intended to provide more light during sociable hours, the practice effectively strips an hour of light from mornings in the summer, adding it onto the evenings for lighter nights. In the fall the reverse is true, with an hour of sunlight robbed from the evening and being gifted to the morning.
This maneuvering of light and the alteration of natural patterns is something which although may have sounded logical, has a detrimental effect on the human body.
Humans have an innate rhythm, a pattern which occurs naturally within the body and drives the desire for sleep and wakefulness. This is known as the circadian rhythm.
Some experts suggest that you only need around a day to adjust to daylight savings time, but other health professionals disagree. Some believe that the human body never gets used to being jolted out of its natural rhythm and that for the entire daylight savings season, everyone remains below par.
Parents of young children would certainly be among the first to agree as babies and toddlers can’t comprehend the change in routine. Their body clock typically takes some time to re-align and that period can be unpleasant for all members of the family.
More than an inconvenience
However, although modern farmers and parents alike may dislike the practice of changing the clocks to daylight savings hours, it is far more than just an inconvenience. In fact, research suggests there could be serious health issues which arise directly as a result.
A lack of sleep has a very fundamental effect on the body, making individuals feel irritable and reducing concentration. The movement of the clocks can be difficult to adjust to, causing insomnia and resulting in less sleep, sometimes for an extended period.
Obesity, heart disease and diabetes have all been linked to insufficient sleep, along with inflammatory conditions. The risk of developing these doubles in shift workers, and doctors believe the same effect occurs after the clock change. The lack of sleep caused by daylight savings hours could therefore directly contribute to these deadly diseases.
Risk of accidents
There is also an increased risk of accidents on the road, with increased drowsiness and fatigue combining with the change in road conditions to create greater hazards. Statistical research seems to back this theory up; with figures pointing to a greater number of incidents around the time the clocks change. Also drivers trying to adjust their car clocks to the new time whilst driving have also been thought to contribute to bad driving and accidents.
In the Monday morning immediately following the changeover, an increase of around 17% was noted in fatalities on the road. A corresponding increase in the number of drivers under the influence of alcohol was also identified, with many suspected to have upped their use to assist in overcoming sleep difficulties.
Again the effects of sleep deprivation can be evident in the workplace with more injuries taking place and accidents occurring after the daylight savings change. Although the figures can’t be exact, the statistics seem to suggest that there’s a 6% rise in the number of incidents with a corresponding 68% rise in lost work hours compared to prior to the change.
You can’t change the laws of the country, but by taking a few precautions you can help to avoid the worst that daylight savings hours can inflict. Increase the amount of natural sunlight you’re exposed to in the afternoons where possible, take Vitamin D supplements and eat a diet full of fresh, organic food. No-one can promise that you’ll be completely immune to the harmful effects of daylight savings hours, but it will help to reduce the worst that the time change could potentially inflict.
Visit WizeLife today for a free health test for an insight into your current health risks.