Research Shows Negative Health Effects of Daylight Savings

The biannual tradition is starting to feel irrelevant

Daylight Savings Time (DST) has become a hotly debated topic, and now new research is showing that the time changes that occur twice a year do more harm than good.

For those wondering why we continue to torture ourselves every spring, DST has its roots in the First World War. The method was first initiated in an attempt to save power during the war. The idea was to spring clocks forward an hour before summer to add an extra hour of sun in the evenings and therefore use less artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war. Thunder Bay, Ontario, was the first location to use DST in 1908, with Germany becoming the first country in 1916 and the UK officially adopting it later and so on.


Now, research is showing that disrupting our sleep patterns can be dangerous to our health. Research from various studies has shown that there is a peak in car accidents, strokes, and heart attacks following the March time change due to the change in our sleep patterns.


Apparently consumerism has played a role in defending DST, with claims that the time changes are good for retail. This theory is also proving to be null, with a new study showing that although customer spending slightly increases following the March time change, there is a larger dip in spending when the clocks roll back in the fall. A study that compared spending patterns between L.A. and Phoenix 30 days after each time change showed that the extra hour of darkness in the fall makes customers less likely to stop at the store in the evenings.

Essentially, there is very little evidence supporting the relevancy of DST. Even the saving-fuel-by-using-less-artificial-light theory is being disproved, with research seeing a spike in electricity use when the clocks fall back.

For the record, Hawaii, Arizona and Saskatchewan do not participate in DST. Maybe the event has become more of a tradition than anything else.

Feature photo courtesy of Samantha Marx via Flickr.