Spring Forward

The Benefits Of “Springing Forward” With Daylight Savings

During this round of daylight saving time (DST), many Americans find themselves struggling with the loss of one hour. However, others enjoy the fact that it’s not completely dark outside by the time they leave the office. Regardless of your stance, studies have proven that the “spring forward” round of DST saves lives, energy, and prevents crime due to the extended hours of daylight. There’s such a difference that some scientists believe that Congress should move the entire country to year-round DST; in other words keep the clocks permanently forward. 

When there’s extended hours of daylight, less lives are put at risk, as studies show that evening rush hours are twice as fatal as morning ones for a variety of DST related reasons. Besides more people being on the road, it’s also more likely that intoxicated individuals are getting behind the wheel when it’s darker out. There’s also more of a rush for people to get home to take advantage of the little amount of daylight they would have left after a full day at work. This is especially true for those with children.  When there’s extended daylight into the evenings, there’s less of a chance of an accident occurring because people are able to pay more attention to their surroundings. 

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A 2013 study found that improved lighting in the evenings also reduces crime rates by up to 20%. Oddly enough, this holds true the most with juvenile crimes, as kids under the age of 18 are more likely to commit a crime after school hours and in the early evening, especially considering at the beginning of the spring-to-fall DST it got dark by 4:30 in some areas of the country. Criminals tend to wait for it to be darker out to commit their crimes as there’s less of a chance of them being spotted by innocent bystanders. Crime rates in general are 30% less likely to happen during the morning/afternoon hours when it’s still light out. 

Another major benefit to DST, and one of the original reasons we decided to start moving our clocks back and forth every year, is the amount of energy it saves annually. When the sun is out later in the day, natural energy sources have an extended period of time in which they can continue to create said energy. 

More sun in the evening means less electric power is used for lighting, as well as a reduction in the amount of oil and gas needed to heat certain buildings and homes. For example, officials working at the California Energy Commission estimated that about 4% of the state’s winter energy usage could be saved if the clocks were permanently kept forward. 

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The biannual clock switching has also been proven to negatively affect individuals health and welfare. Heart attacks increase by 24% the week after we “spring our clocks forward” every March, the same type of increase occurs in the fall as well. When individuals don’t plan the switch in times accordingly with their night time routines it can lead to overall feelings of physical and mental fatigue, which can also lead to a series of other types of accidents. 

Finally, there’s a major increase in recreational activities and consumer spending when the sun remains out later in the evening. Studies show that Americans are much more likely to go out and shop after work when the sun remains out during the spring months. This is extremely beneficial to the likes of local businesses and the economy in general. 

In addition, Americans are more likely to get out and get some sort of physical activity when it’s light out in the evenings, as there’s less of a rush to race the sun as it sets. Extended hours of sunlight benefits our health, energy-use, and overall safety, and it’s why so many have made the argument that we should always have the clocks pushed forward. Only time will tell if our federal government will make the switch and reap the rewards of “marching forward” permanently.

Alarm Clock

Daylight Savings Impacts More Than Just Your Sleep Schedule

This weekend, November 3rd, Daylight Savings will come for it’s biannual visit to the world and set our clocks back one hour. This round of daylight savings is normally more favorable than the one that occurs in the spring, due to the fact that it feels like we all can sleep an extra hour before heading to work on Monday. However, regardless of which way the clocks are moving, daylight savings affects your sleep and overall health every year. Any modifications we make to our sleep schedules, whether it be from jet lag, adjusting to accommodate for a new baby or pet, etc. will always affect our bodies functioning and health.

USA Today reviewed over 100 medical papers in relation to how daylight savings affects physical and mental health in an effort to see if the event actually accomplishes its goal of making the best out of seasonal daylight. It takes about five to seven days for your body to fully adjust to the shift in time. Even though it’s just one hour, your body’s clock is used to waking up at a certain time during certain days of the week and sleeping in for others, assuming you work a nine to five, five day work week. So even shifting your routine by one hour will mean your body needs time to adjust. 

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Additionally, individuals who already suffer from sleep deprivation, insomnia, or anything else that normally affects how long and how well you sleep are likely to struggle more every daylight savings. These individuals may notice issues with their memory, learning, social interactions, and overall cognitive performance, as anyone would who doesn’t get enough sleep (USA). If you’re somebody who knows that daylight savings severely messes with their sleep cycle and therefore overall well-being, it’s recommended you go see your physician, or a sleep specialist to talk out potential options to help you. While rare, depending on the preexisting health conditions of an individual, heart attack and stroke are more likely to occur during daylight savings. 

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“When Americans lose one hour of sleep in the spring, the risk of heart attack increases by 25%. When the clock gives back that hour of sleep the risk of heart attack decreases by 21%,” According to a study led by a University of Colorado fellow in 2014.

“Turning the clock ahead or behind an hour could [also] increase the risk of stroke. That’s because disrupting a person’s internal body clock might increase the risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, according to researchers. The risk of ischemic stroke is 8% higher two days after a daylight saving time,” according to a preliminary study presented at the 2016 American Academy of Neurology.

It’s important to note that both these studies were presented at their preliminary stages, so these conclusions are not universally accepted to be true, however, its safe to say everyone’s bodies get a little off balance every year during daylight savings. What’s most important is that you listen to your body, a lot of people think that their fatigue is just due to their internal body clock resetting, however, if you’re noticing the consistent and heavy weight of sleep always looming over you, you should talk about it with a professional. Caffeine helps, but isn’t the end all be all solution to cure your tiredness. Sleep and resting your body is the only way to ensure it will be functioning at 100%.