Does ‘Daylight Savings Time’ Cause Health Problems or Worsen Medical Conditions?

Does ‘Daylight Savings Time’ Cause Health Problems or Worsen Medical Conditions?
General Health

Moving clocks ahead an hour for daylight saving means more evening sun. But it can also cause ‘microsleeps’ – nodding off with potentially dangerous consequences – until we adapt.“[1]

Many individuals throughout Western society are experiencing insomnia and other sleep conditions more frequently. Because of this predicament in our “already overworked, sleep-deprived country,’ shifting the time by one hour twice a year to accommodate Daylight Savings Time (DST) now has greater significance than ever. It now takes less of life’s daily stresses to produce ‘microsleeps’ during the day which then interrupt both work and play.

“Susceptibility to “microsleeps” increases after the time shift, resulting in a spike in car crashes, including fatal ones where alcohol is involved, as well an increase in workplace injuries. A general sense of DST ennui also results in more “cyber-loafing” than usual, thanks to DST’s impacts on the “ego depletion model of self-regulation,” according to the Journal of Applied Psychology.”[1]

Many of us are unaware of the effects that the biannual DST time changes have on them. Whether those effects occur over the day of the shift, the ensuing week, or some longer time frame, it is important for everyone to beware of the potential risks involved. Particularly where it concerns work that is dangerous, or that requires a high level of concentration, is it good to know the adverse impacts of disturbed sleep patterns.

Health Problems and Medical Conditions can Likewise be Exacerbated

“As people set their clocks forward an hour for daylight saving time this Sunday (March 8), they may also want to take extra care of their heart. That’s because people tend to have more heart attacks on the Monday following spring’s daylight saving time, according to a recent study.”[2]

Related: How a Single Night of Lost Sleep can Age Your Brain Significantly

The above quote comes from an article posted today, Sunday, March 8th, which also happens to be the first day of Daylight Savings Time time change. Because of the life-threatening nature of heart attacks, this relatively unknown medical factoid can save someone’s life.

“In fact, the number of heart attacks increased 24 percent on the Monday following a daylight saving time, compared with the daily average for the weeks surrounding the start of daylight saving time, according to a 2014 study in the journal Open Heart.”[2]

There are various theories advanced for this rise in the incidence of heart attacks immediately following the Spring DST Sunday. As follows:

“The exact reasons for the rise of heart attacks in the spring aren’t clear, but researchers have several ideas. The hour change may disrupt circadian rhythms and interfere with cortisol levels, hormones that fluctuate throughout the day to help manage stress on the body, and increase blood sugar when sugar levels are low.”[2]

Because of the disruption of sleep at night, as well as the adverse health outcomes of changing the clock twice every year, there is a growing movement to abandon this national ritual. Some individuals and families have even resorted to keeping the time the same throughout the year in their home. For those with home businesses this causes virtually no problems. For school-age children and adults who work outside the home, there is more time management required in order to keep the schedules straight.

It appears that the health consequences of moving the clocks were never considered during the original formulation of the policy. Therefore, it would seem to be incumbent upon each person to assess their own vulnerability, as well as any serious risk factors, which might be associated with the yearly DST practice.


[1] After daylight saving time shift, beware of ‘microsleeps’

[2] Watch Out: Daylight Saving Time May Cause Heart Attack Spike