Daylight Savings And The Effects On Your Body

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This upcoming Sunday, November 3rd is the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST). Everyone for the exception of Hawaii and Arizona are to change their clocks one hour back. Those states are exempt after their legislatures argued it unnecessary due to climate/constant sun exposure. 

The idea of following DST is to take advantage of evening daylight during the summer months and have earlier sunrises during the winter. 

“By synchronously resetting all clocks in a region to one hour ahead of standard time, individuals who follow such a year-round schedule will wake an hour earlier than they would have otherwise; they will begin and complete daily work routines an hour earlier, and they will have available to them an extra hour of daylight after their workday activities. However, they will have one less hour of daylight at the start of each day, making the policy less practical during winter.” (1)

One would think that states would be in support of a practice that gives them more sunlight but there are actually many arguments against DST. Some say that the extra hour in the morning isn’t really helpful because most people are either still inside getting ready for the day or are asleep. There are studies that say, “losing 1 hour of afternoon daylight after setting the clocks back to standard time can trigger mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression” (2). A Danish study (3) found “an 11% increase in depression cases after the time seasonal change…”. For states in the PNW where SAD affects 20-30% of the population, maybe it is best if we reconsider. 

This time change causes more harm than good on our bodies and does more than impact our mental state. Majority of the health issues fall back on the fact that DST severely impacts your circadian rhythms. When you mess with people’s sleep, you affect more than their beauty rest. 

Lack of sleep can impact your blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. A 2012 study by University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Martin Young found that the risk of heart attack surges by 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead an hour each spring (4). Less sleep also impacts your hormones and overall mood meaning in can affect your fertility and more (5). 

Overall fatigue also impacts productivity and reaction times for both students and employees. This means that car accidents are more likely as well as people showing up late to work or other scheduling conflicts. Students are less likely to retain information or perform well on tests after the time change due to losing an hour of sleep. 

For Oregon to stop using Daylight Savings Time, we would have to convince the other states in our time zone to abandon it, which is…not likely to happen. In that case, there are a few things you can do to get ahead of the grogginess:

  • Go to bed an hour earlier or set your alarm for an earlier wake-up call to adjust for the time difference the next day. 
  • Stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods to ensure you have your vitamins and minerals
  • Walk in the sun to soak up that vitamin D 
  • Just power through it with a lot of caffeine and a scowl (or smile), all will sort itself out 

Sources: 

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time

2.https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/daylight-saving-health.html

3.http://mentalfloss.com/article/88113/daylight-saving-time-blame-seasonal-depression

4.https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131101-when-does-daylight-savings-time-end-november-3-science/

5.https://www.health.com/sleep/daylight-saving-time-health-risks

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About Author

Alecya Krivolenkov

Alecya is an Oregon native and Portland State alumni. She is a cannabis, food, and sex education enthusiast. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, you can find her in the garden trying to grow something for next harvest or in front of the TV binging the latest and greatest. She aspires to write her own cookbook as well as open a multi-facility clinic for sexual trauma survivors. You can follow her cooking on instagram: @kushaipdx

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