On Sunday, people in the United States, with the exception of those in Hawaii and Arizona, will move their clocks back an hour at 2 a.m., effectively ending daylight saving time. The action cuts down on the dark morning hour’s duration, but you can plan on an earlier nightfall. Additionally, most Americans believe they are going to get an extra hour of sleep. But will they really?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, studies indicate that the answer is no, and moving the clock backward is only equal to a gain in sleep for a handful of people. After the time shift, the majority of us will wake earlier, have problems falling asleep and are more likely to wake up. Additionally, people that get up early, and those that sleep less than 7.5 hours a night will feel the time shift more than others.
What’s more, many of us will experience a drop in our productivity for a time after the rollback happens with its associated loss of daylight. According to a survey from YouGov and Velux, 74 percent of people said daylight saving time affected their productivity, while 34 percent said it affected their productivity “significantly,” reports AOL.
Dr. Yvonne Harrison, who is a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University in England, gave a telling review of the phenomena in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. She concluded that even though the bi-annual time changes are a seemingly small one-hour shift in the sleep cycle, they can affect a person’s sleep cycle for up to a week. Let that sink in — you’re going to feel like you’ve overloaded on doughnuts for an entire week.
So, why does this happen? Well, that’s because daylight saving time interferes with our circadian rhythm.
According to the Sleep Foundation, circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep/wake cycle, is a physiological process that can be described as a clock inside the background of your brain that runs 24/7 at regular intervals. Circadian rhythm governs many important bodily functions, but when it comes to the transition between sleepfulness and wakefulness, it cycles in regular intervals between the two. External factors such as daylight savings time, jet lag, and even compelling TV shows can disrupt circadian rhythm.
And, if you think that’s bad, consider what happens when people move the clocks forward when daylight savings time arrives again in spring. Trying to adjust to the time shift is more than just a minor annoyance of losing an hour, and the disruption can greatly open people up to the risk of serious health issues.
CNN reports that studies in Finland in 2016 concluded the following.
“The overall rate for stroke was 8 percent higher in the two days after daylight saving time. Cancer victims were 25 percent more likely to have a stroke during that time, and people older than 65 were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke.”
There have been arguments over the benefits and drawback of daylight savings since it officially began statewide in 1966. Some countries have moved to what is known as permanent daylight saving time, which is staying on summer hours without moving the clock forward or backward.
Florida passed a bill to move to permanent daylight saving time, and other states have since followed suit or are considering the same. Meanwhile, states can’t implement daylight saving time without Congress changing federal law.