Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter in 1784 with the idea that if our country were to set our clocks forward one hour so that the sun will set later in the day, everyone would save on candles and lantern oil. Also, people would be able to work deeper into the evenings outside because it was brighter.
Fast forward to 2017 and approximately 81 countries change their clocks to daylight saving time (DST) around the world according to TimeAndDate.com. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, creating one specific times for Americans to change their clocks.
DST affects us twice every year, and is typically a pretty insignificant change in our day-to-day lives. Losing an hour of sleep is an annoyance that people try to avoid this time of year, and college students doing midterms and finals these weeks know how important sleep can be. Recent studies done about how the human body is effected by that change in sleep actually shows that it can be quite more than just an annoyance for some.
In 2016, researchers based in Finland found that the Monday and Tuesday after people switch to DST people are more susceptible to stroke, particularly cancer survivors and people older than 65, according to the American Academy of Neurology.
“Further studies must now be done to better understand the relationship between these transitions and stroke risk and to find out if there are ways to reduce that risk,”
Dr. Jori Ruuskanen, of the University of Turku in Finland said at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting.
This study has been linked to study done in 2012 at the University of Alabama concluded that the Monday and Tuesday after we switch to DST, there is a 10 percent higher risk of heart attack, and that our immune system is weaker.
Christopher Barnes, an associate professor at the University of Washington, researches the impact of sleep deprivation in the workplace, and studies how Americans are effected by DST. His research shows that when we gain an hour in the fall, people don’t typically use that extra hour for sleep.
“Human beings aren’t built for 25-hour days,” he told CNN. “It throws people off because we’re working against our natural process.”
Barnes conducted an experiment in 2009 at Michigan State University that was published in Journal of Applied Phycology which concluded that the lack of sleep due to DST is related to an increase in workplace injuries.
“When we change the time by one hour, it throws a monkey wrench into our circadian process,” said Barnes, referring to the body’s natural 24-hour cycle.
Society is constantly changing and adapting, and the use of DST has outgrown the U.S. and provides little more than an inconvenience for students who are balancing school, sleep, and everything else in life. So try to find an extra hour in your day to take a nap, if you can. It is, after all, for your health.