Did your body complain about daylight saving time? (Thinkstock)
Did your body complain about daylight saving time?
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How did your body like the switch to daylight saving time? When your alarm went off an hour early, 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. Medical research, however, suggests that it has an impact on our bodies. Switching to daylight saving time has been linked with a possible increase in the car and workplace accidents. It is also linked to heart attacks and severe headaches.

One of the first persons to suggest moving the clock as the day lengthened was Ben Franklin. In 1784, he argued that having daylight last longer would save energy. Nearly 100 years later George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand artist, proposed the idea in an 1895 paper. Why? He was an amateur insect collector and wanted more time to collect bugs after work. Some European countries adopted it soon after. Beginning in the 1940s, some US states adopted it. 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 debated. Factors such as more air-conditioning affect energy use. Arizona and Hawaii have warm climates and have not adopted daylight saving time. Neither have many countries near the equator. There, the change of light during shifting seasons is not as great as in the regions north and south.

It is clear, however, that the impact of daylight saving time on peoples sleep cycles can have some nasty health effects. For example, two Michigan hospitals recently counted heart attack victims on the first day of daylight saving. They found that they treated almost twice as many 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 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. So do our sleep-wake cycles, the timed release of hormones, and even our moods.

How serious are effects on the sleep cycle? More serious than you might think. Clearly sleep is important to psychological and physiological balance. So is the lack of it. Whose brain hasnt felt fuzzy from lack of sleep? But research now also links poor sleeping habits to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A study was just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It found that getting too little sleep a few nights in a row can disrupt hundreds of genes. These include including those tied to stress and fighting diseases.

Unfortunately, daylight saving time may disrupt body clocks 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 (75)
  • MCS2001softball
    3/13/2015 - 08:45 a.m.

    We, as a collective group, need to figure out a way to transition to Daylight Savings Time faster to stop these issues with our bodies that may be occuring within the transition. It could possibly lead to issues that could effect future generations and it needs to be fixed now.

  • KatieK-Kut
    3/13/2015 - 09:08 a.m.

    I don't think we should have daylight savings, because even though its just an hour less. It increases the chance of car and work accident. It also is linked to more heart attacks and headaches. Why did we have daylight saving but not Hawaii and Arizona don't?

  • MahmoudBeverly-DiB
    3/13/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

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

  • amiraj522
    3/13/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    My body still need to getting use to waking up an hour early. I always press the snooze button on my phone. Daylight savings also hurt people too. on the day of the daylight savings, more people got heart attacks the usual.

  • 21bwmill
    3/13/2015 - 12:20 p.m.

    I think that daylight saving is important because otherwise our "daylight" would be all messed up. it would be really dark during the day. or it would be really bright at night. Id rather have to take or loose an hour than have it bright all day.

  • 21mmcrow
    3/13/2015 - 12:23 p.m.

    I think losing an hour of sleep is so stupid. I like my sleep to much to loss it! Today I am very tired and I bet if we didn't loss an hour of sleep I would be wake!! So I think we should take the hour and enjoy are sleep.

  • 21cmhaas
    3/13/2015 - 12:26 p.m.

    I think it would be best if we didn't have Daylight Savings Time because it risks people's lives to have heart attacks and children would be too exhausted to pay attention in class. I get really exhausted and cranky in the morning, it would be pretty bad that adults could be late for work as well and lose their job.

  • MS01tumblr
    3/13/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think that my body is very weird. I can go to sleep on the weekends anytime and wake up before 9 am. On school days I can never wake up early. Not even if i go to bed early!

  • mackinzy.oneil65
    3/13/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    Most Americans spring forward, moving their day ahead an hour for the start of daylight savings time. It means daylight arrives later in the morning but last longer in the evening. Some reasons people love and hate daylight savings time. Loosing an hour of sleep is a main one people dislike daylight saving time and going to work and school in the dark. And mainly listening to people complain about it. Some reasons we like it, is being on the same schedule as Arizona, and knowing spring is on its way. Another bad thing is it can actually be bad for your heart.

  • GabiD-1
    3/13/2015 - 08:22 p.m.

    Daylight savings time really takes a tool on our bodies, even if we don't know it. Studies show that there is a significant increase in the numbers of heat attacks, severe headaches, and car crashes. The first idea of daylight savings was suggested Ben Franklin and then it was again suggested by George Vernon Hudson. Not everyone participates in daylight savings time, the states Arizona and Hawaii don't have daylight savings time because it has a very warm climate.

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