Did your body complain about daylight saving time? (Thinkstock)
Did your body complain about daylight saving time?
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When your alarm went off an hour early after the country moved into daylight saving time, did you want to hit the snooze button? If your body complained, it had good reason.

Most Americans lose at least an hour of sleep after setting their clocks ahead. An hour may not seem like much, but medical research suggests that it has an impact on our bodies. The switch to daylight saving time has been linked with a possible increase in the car and workplace accidents, heart attacks, and severe headaches.

One of the first persons to suggest moving the clock to keep up with the lengthening day was Ben Franklin, who argued in 1784 that having daylight last longer into the evening would be a way to save energy. Nearly 100 years later George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand artist and amateur insect collector, proposed the idea in an 1895 paper. He wanted more time to collect bugs after work. Some European countries adopted it soon after. Beginning in the 1940s, some US states adopted it, and the federal government standardized the dates in the 1960s.

Video: How does daylight saving affect the body?

Whether springing forward and falling back actually save energy is a matter of debate, as factors such as the increased use of air-conditioning come into play. Arizona and Hawaii, two states that have warm climates, have not adopted daylight saving time. Neither have many countries that lie near the earth's equator, where the change of light during shifting seasons is not as great as in the northern and southern regions of the Earth.

What is clear, however, is that the impact of daylight saving time on peoples sleep cycles can have some really nasty health consequences. A recent study by two Michigan hospitals, for example, found that they treated almost twice as many heart attack victims on the first day of daylight saving as on a typical Sunday. A Swedish study in 2008 found that the increased risk of heart attacks lasts for three days after switching to daylight saving.

What might explain these effects? The most important cue for studying our internal clocks is light. When we suddenly change the time by an hour it alters the amount of light we see during the day. The result is our internal rhythms get off kilter, as do our sleep-wake cycles, the timed release of hormones, and even our moods.

Effects on the sleep cycle present more serious consequences than you might think. Clearly sleep, or lack thereof, is a key component of psychic and physiological balance. Who hasnt felt the stupidness of fuzzy brain from lack of sleep? But research now also links poor sleeping habits to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A study just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that getting too little sleep just a few nights in a row can disrupt hundreds of genes, including those tied to stress and fighting diseases.

Unfortunately, the disruption of the body clock caused by daylight saving time may be long term: German researchers reported in October that our internal body clocks never really adjust to daylight saving time.

Learn more about daylight saving time.

Critical thinking challenge: Which technologies and environmental factors affect energy use?

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COMMENTS (18)
  • jmaddagevvc
    3/13/2015 - 08:23 a.m.

    I highly agree with this opinion. Daylight Savings Time affected me this year. In school I actually have become more tired and I've been wanting more sleep. Maybe the time didn't adjust to my body yet. I know it will take some time getting used to and I'm sure as the article said this has affected many others.

  • Cwilliamsvvc
    3/13/2015 - 08:27 a.m.

    i thought it was good it was nice and short but it could've been longer the article made lots of sense about how we need sleep and 1 hour less to sleep can affect us.

  • JBrzegvvc
    3/13/2015 - 08:46 a.m.

    I think that turning the clocks on loosing an hour of sleep is horrible and I still have not adjusted to it yet. I say they get rid of the the one where the clocks get set forward because it can hurt us all physically and it causes many problems when we loose an hour of sleep it is horrible because I like to sleep and when I have to lose an hour I'm grumpy as all heck. I say they get rid of daylight savings all together it has defiantly affected me.

  • pp2000boa
    3/13/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think daylight savings isn't useful at all. I think that numbering the time is also a bit stupid. It just matters when the sun rises, sets and the sky turns dark. Numbered time like 15:00, 4 P.M., is pretty useless. We should follow our natural internal time and just call it by the sun's position and all that.

  • 1AbbyP
    3/13/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    Moving the clock ahead an hour early effects our bodies by how tired it is. This can cause people to have heart attacks to in crease in the car. Arizona and Hawaii have not adopted the daylights savings time change because of the warm climates. In 2008 in a Swedish they found that you are at very high ricks for the first 3 days of the time change. It also may give you high blood pressure and the you're sleep cycle will be damage pretty bad by it. But sadly the disruption of the body caused by daylight savings is long term.

  • jeanileisyt-Koc
    3/16/2015 - 12:44 a.m.

    Of course, my body did complain about daylight saving time,because my body has not yet been adapted to the system of this country then since I came here my body gets tired faster and give me a lot of headaches too often.

  • cristinal-Koc
    3/16/2015 - 01:15 a.m.

    I felt like day light savings wouldn't affect our body, but this year for some reason for me, the first week of daylight savings I've woken up 4 out of the 5 days late. I usually get up to have enough time to get ready and eat, but I only had time to get ready. One day in that week I didn't even have enough time to brush my teeth. It did impact me a lot in class. I was extra sleeping and would take a nap right when I got home. The only thing I like about it is that the sun is out longer. It reminds me of how summer is coming up and I'm excited.

  • CamrynM-Kan
    3/16/2015 - 09:15 a.m.

    It was really interesting to find out that daylight saving time has a long-term effect on the body. What I want to know is if it helps when we go back one hour, does it reset what we lost before?

  • Ashleypatt
    3/16/2015 - 05:50 p.m.

    My body actually did nothing because it happened on the weekend so when i woke up i slept in so my body didnt get effected that bad. So this year it wasnt that bad because I didnt feel like I didnt loose any sleep.

  • BrigitteA-3
    3/16/2015 - 08:24 p.m.

    The daylight savings time change has struck many Americans hard. Researchers have proven that heart attacks, stress related diseases, and long term problems are a result of the time change. Most people's bodies never really adjust to the change. Hawaii and Arizona along with other countries near the equator still haven't adopted daylight savings time. I still haven't adjusted to the time change, and I personally don't like the idea of daylight savings due to the lost of an hour of sleep.

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