Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend as we’ll turn our clocks forward one hour in the wee hours of Sunday morning which will provide us with more daylight later into the evening. While the original idea behind daylight savings was arguably a satire written by Benjamin Franklin, according to Scientific American, the main proponents of daylight savings time were an entomologist who liked the idea of more daylight after his day job to collect bugs and a golfer who noted “a little extra well-lit time on a balmy evening would be nicer than in the morning when everybody’s asleep anyway.” They proposed their idea in the late 19th century and various governments seized on the idea, with the idea that daylight savings would cut down on energy use because more sunlight in the evening would mean less coal burned for artificial light. Germany was the first to institute Daylight Saving Time.
From energy.gov: “The U.S. adopted Daylight Saving Time towards the end of World War I and then again during World War II, but between 1945 and 1966, there was no federal law regulating it. This led to confusion between states, and in 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to establish uniform dates for observing Daylight Saving Time.” While Federal law sets the start and end times for Daylight Saving Time, any state can opt out of it by passing a law. In fact, the Florida legislature just passed a bill to keep Florida on daylight savings year-round and has sent it to the governor to be signed.
A U .S.government study did find a modest amount of overall energy savings due to Daylight Saving Time (about 0.5% per day).
Turning our clocks forward an hour costs us sleep over the following days as our bodies adjust to going to bed and waking up earlier. It turns out that can adversely impact our health.
A recent study of hospital records over four years in Michigan found that there are additional heart attacks on the Monday after Daylight Savings and another study found that the incidence of strokes rise when Daylight Savings starts and ends. The incidence of cluster headaches increase in the days after Daylight Savings. In vitro fertilization success rates drop in March, immediately following the time change.
A study of 20-years of mine injury records found an increased incidence of injury in the days following Daylight Savings and suggested that workplace injuries in fields beyond mining likely increase as well. Authors of the study said: “We contend that the springtime change is associated with an increase in the number and severity of workplace accidents, especially for those engaged in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail. Studies have shown that lost sleep causes attention levels to drop off.” The study found no change in the accident rate when Daylight Savings Time ended in November.
A study from 2012 found increased “cyberloafing” on the internet at work by employees in the days following Daylight Savings, meaning that more time was spent wasting time browsing on the internet. The study authors attribute the lack of motivation and productivity to the lost sleep from Daylight Savings.
Tips from the Cleveland Clinic for adjusting to Daylight Saving Time:
1. Start preparing a few days early. Begin going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime a few days prior to DLS. “Your body needs that bit of extra time to make up for the lost hour.”
2. Wake up early. “Exposing yourself to the bright light in the morning will help you adjust.”
3. Don’t nap while adjusting to the time change. “Avoiding naps is key for adjusting to the time change.”
4. Avoid coffee and alcohol for 4-6 hours before bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep quality.