Should Daylight Saving Time go the way of the Dodo bird?

  • Published
  • By Wallace Greenwood
  • Air Education and Training Command Safety Directorate

Daylight Saving Time, the dreaded “spring forward” version, is upon us. At 2 a.m. March 10 most of us push our clocks ahead 60 minutes and promptly lose a precious hour of sleep (oh, how I envy you folks in Arizona!). This has many people wishing Daylight Saving Time would go the way of the Dodo bird … extinct.

The time change not only brings an annoyance and possibility of being late for work the following morning, but there are also some potential safety concerns that come with it. The most obvious are the effects of sleep deprivation, which can be caused by the time change. This loss of an hour of sleep can impact our hormone levels, immune system and heart. Listed below are a few common side effects of the time shift.

Mood: The disruption of sleep cycles can result in a hormonal imbalance, resulting in depressive feelings, anxiety, irritability and mental exhaustion. Anxiety can affect our ability to relax, making it extremely difficult to fall asleep. This, in turn, can create a cascading effect of sleep deprivation.

Appetite: Believe it or not, this same disruption in your hormones can impact your appetite, causing some people to overeat.

Cognitive: The time change also has the potential to affect a person’s memory, performance and concentration skills. A study by the Journal of Applied Psychology discovered workplace injuries, to include severe injuries, increased on the Monday after switching to Daylight Saving Time. In addition, another study found a correlation between the change in time and an increase in traffic accidents because of increased fatigue.

Heart Attacks: A study by the British Medical Journal found the risk for heart attacks increased by 24 percent on the Monday following Daylight Saving Time in the spring. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when we fall back an hour in the fall and we get an extra hour of sleep, our risk for heart attack decreases by 21 percent.

While Daylight Saving Time might have served a genuine purpose in the past (had to do with saving coal back in 1918 and was passed into law in 1966), its time has likely passed. In light of the many potential health risks, hazards and loss of productivity associated with Daylight Saving Time, this antiquated concept should probably go the way of the Dodo. But until then, beware of the potential perils of fatigue accompanying the time change, so none of us go the way of the Dodo.