November 04, 2019

With autumn comes daylight savings time and yesterday, November 3rd, we all set our clocks back by one hour. Although this has been in practice for over 50 years, people still debate as to whether or not it actually accomplishes anything. If you’re like me, you may be looking forward to that extra hour of sleep you’ll gain, however there are actually some negative side effects that come from our clocks “falling back” and “springing forward.”

 

History of Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time was first established in the United States in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, however the idea originated long before that. Originally the concept was thought of by Benjamin Franklin as a way to reduce the cost of light after noticing that people were burning candles at night but sleeping past dawn. He thought this could serve as a solution to conserve more candles. Today, our main purpose is to simply make better use of the daylight we have available.

 

How Daylight Savings Time Affects our Sleep

Thankfully the change in time is much easier to cope with during the fall, as opposed to the spring. However, both seasonal changes can greatly affect our sleep habits and circadian rhythm, causing a disconnect between our body’s internal clock and daily schedule. Generally, it only takes a few days to adjust to the change.

 

How Daylight Savings Time Affects our Health

With daylight savings, we don’t just alter our clocks but also our overall ability to sleep, our mood, and how we feel throughout the day. While the effects are greater in the spring time, here are some ways daylight savings affect our health in the fall:

  • Disruptions to the body clock have been linked with obesity, diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure, and other conditions. When we don’t get enough sleep due to daylight savings, there is a higher increase in stress, which in turn can cause serious health concerns.
  • Sunlight helps to increase our serotonin, which in referred to as our “happy hormone.” When we decrease our exposure to the sun by removing an hour of daylight, our mood is affected, and in some cases, can lead to depression and other mood imbalances, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • Light also suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing substance, melatonin. Melatonin is essential in regulating our sleep cycle and also helps to control our body temperature, blood pressure, and hormone levels. It is harder for the body to keep up with the production of melatonin when sleep is affected.

You can counteract these effects from daylight savings time by exposing yourself to as much light as possible throughout the day, purchasing a sleep lamp, or taking vitamin D supplements to boost your levels. Try to keep your sleep schedule as normal as possible or prepare in advance when it comes time to change our clocks.

 

When the premise first came to LIGHT over 100 years ago, the goal was to save energy. Today, research suggests that there has been little to no benefit to daylight savings time. So, what do you think? Do you like the tradition of changing our clocks back and ahead an hour? Comment below with your thoughts!


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