Effects of daylight savings time on health

The Better Sleep Council says it takes a third of us about a week to adjust to the change

My husband and I were applauding ourselves after the time change early Sunday morning. We weren’t too comatose after losing an hour of sleep but a study says you are 11 percent more likely to be in an accident and 10 percent more likely to have a heart attack in the first three weeks after “springing ahead one hour.”

The Better Sleep Council says it takes a third of us about a week to adjust to the change with the 18- to 34-year olds saying it takes them even more time to recover. And there’s an economic impact according to the CDC. The stock market tends to be more volatile after the spring time change and companies lose when their sleep deprived workers stumble through that first week. Who knew!

Moreover, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults say daylight saving time affects their work the Monday after the changeover, according to a survey of 1,038 adults conducted by the Better Sleep Council (BSC). Nearly 30 percent say it takes a week for them to adjust to the change, with the 18- to 34-year-olds saying they need the most time to adjust to the one-hour loss.

The economy takes a hit as a result, according to CDC. The agency estimates that 30% of U.S. workers are already sleep-deprived, which costs companies as much as $63.2 billion in lost productivity over the year. Daylight savings only exacerbates the problem. Even the stock market is more volatile the day after daylight savings, according to a 2011 study.

This is perhaps why the week after “spring forward” is National Sleep Awareness Week.

How to minimize the impact of daylight savings

To get used to the change, BSC experts recommend:

  • soaking up sun in the evening with the later sunset,
  • getting some exercise, and
  • going to bed early.

However, putting that advice into practice may take some dedication, acknowledges BSC spokesperson Karin Mahoney. “We tend to wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, as in, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead,'” Mahoney told the San Francisco Chronicle.

She adds that “[h]umans crave routine. You have to be consistent, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, and you have to be smart about things like not drinking caffeine at night or bringing your laptop to bed with you at bedtime” (Serna, “Booster Shots,” Los Angeles Times, 3/8; Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/8).


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