While most consumers might not think much about they sleep they gain or lose when changing their clocks for Daylight Savings Time (DST), a new study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University shows that the change could be significant to a person’s health.
The study revealed that though the time change is just an hour in either direction, it has the power to greatly disrupt consumers’ natural internal clock. This can ultimately lead to serious health concerns and increase the risk of injuries and accidents.
“People think the one-hour transition is no big deal, that they can get over this in a day, but what they don’t realize is their biological clock is out of sync,” said Dr. Beth Ann Malow.
What the body goes through
The researchers analyzed previous studies, all of which have documented how Daylight Savings Time affects consumers’ health in various ways.
Several studies reported on consumers’ disrupted sleep patterns following the one-hour time change for as long as two weeks after it occurred. This is particularly important, as researchers have recently found that it’s nearly impossible for consumers’ to make up for lost sleep, and it can be hard to overcome the struggles that typically arise from lack of sleep.
The researchers emphasized that this time change affects the body beyond just when we move the clocks forward or backward. They say that doing so has huge implications on health, as Daylight Savings Time correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular incidents and stroke.
Though a seemingly small change, our body’s circadian rhythm becomes unstable due to the change in natural light. The researchers say it can upset other natural body systems and ultimately lead to these more serious health concerns.
“It’s not one hour twice a year,” said Dr. Malow. “It’s a misalignment of our biological clocks for eight months of the year. When we talk about DST and the relationship to light, we are talking about profound impacts on the biological clock, which is a structure rooted in the brain. It impacts brain functions such as energy levels and alertness.”
Because of these effects on consumers’ health, many states have been transitioning away from Daylight Savings Time. However, these feelings aren’t unanimous, and it isn’t likely that the entire country will do away with the one-hour change anytime soon.