Circadian science Lighting Sleeping troubles

The Dark Side of Daylight Saving Time

Welp, here we are yet again. We are once more setting our clocks forward one hour to have more evening light. Why? That’s a good question. The history of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is complex and goes back to 1918 (in the United States). But lately more and more people are asking if it’s even necessary. To that, I say a big “NO.” Here’s why:

For starters, it messes with our sleep schedule. You might think that a 1-hour change to our regular sleeping pattern isn’t a big deal, but it can take days for our bodies to adjust. This time change can be especially difficult for people who already struggle with sleep issues. And let’s not forget about the importance of a regular sleep routine—recently cited by the New York Times as an important contributor to heart health. When you shift the clocks, you disrupt your sleep regularity, with downstream effects all across your body and worsened health outcomes.

This is part of my next point: DST is associated with an increased risk of serious health problems. The risk of heart attacks surges by 24% after the spring forward change, as rhythms in cortisol struggle to track the societally imposed earlier wake time. It’s also associated with an elevated risk of car accidents, as sleepy people cause problems on the road.

By getting rid of daylight saving time, we could help promote better sleep habits, reduce the risk of accidents and other negative health outcomes, and make it easier for people to stick to their daily routines. Let’s stop shifting the clock—and keep permanent standard time around.