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Medicine Science

Is Daylight Saving Time Bad For You? 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-late-for-work dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to experts on circadian rhythms, the hour shift in sleep schedule from Daylight Saving Time can have serious effects on some people's health, particularly in people with certain pre-existing health problems. One study found that men were more likely to commit suicide during the first few weeks of Daylight Saving Time (DST) than at any other time during the year, and another study showed that the number of serious heart attacks jumps 6% to 10% on the first three workdays after DST begins. Dr. Xiaoyong Yang, an assistant professor of comparative medicine and cellular and molecular physiology at Yale University, theorizes that shifts in biologic rhythms could trigger harmful inflammatory or metabolic changes at the cellular level, to which these individuals may be more susceptible."
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Is Daylight Saving Time Bad For You?

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  • Yep (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who suffers from SAD, depression, etc. I can attest to the fact that a strict sleep schedule is incredibly important to keeping me healthy and functional. DST rudely smashes all my carefully laid schedules and plans.

    It may not seem like much, but even shifting things by a single hour and put me (and people like me) a very difficult spot. Light boxes and sunrise simulator alarm clocks help, but what helps the most is strict consistency in sleep/wake times. This is especially harmful to people wit
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:25PM (#35466006) Homepage

      If it's really a health issue, why adjust your sleep schedule to match the changing clock? Can't you simply get up an hour earlier during winter?

      • Re:Yep (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:42PM (#35466152)

        I'm already waking up before the crack of noon. I don't know how much earlier you expect me to get up.

      • Can't you simply get up a hour earlier in the summer, without changing the clocks to regulate everyone else into doing so?
        • by Xtifr (1323)

          I'm not sure what you're saying. I do get up an hour earlier in the summer, I certainly could do so without changing my clocks (though that would seem like a silly and pointless exercise, since the everyone around me changes their clocks), and I'm not regulating anyone! Perhaps you mistook my practical suggestion for pro-DST advocacy?

          • I'm not sure what you're saying. I do get up an hour earlier in the summer, I certainly could do so without changing my clocks (though that would seem like a silly and pointless exercise, since the everyone around me changes their clocks), and I'm not regulating anyone! Perhaps you mistook my practical suggestion for pro-DST advocacy?

            Yes, I did. Good day to you, sir. :)

  • People who travel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ramk13 (570633) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @02:42PM (#35465678)

    How does this compare to people who travel one time zone over, let alone multiple time zones? Aren't these people (millions) in worse shape?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      This is a related problem. But unlike travel which can be mitigated by either avoiding it or traveling by car/train, DST is something that's imposed by the government and cannot easily be avoided if you're in an area that observes it. Few employers are going to let you come in late to avoid having your circadian rhythm disrupted.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        This is a related problem. But unlike travel which can be mitigated by either avoiding it or traveling by car/train

        How? If one hour is a problem, you'll have a problem crossing any timezone. And if you're travelling multiple time zones, it's not likely your boss will pay for days of travel each way either. To be honest this might be triggering on the statistics, but those people must be pretty fragile to begin with. It's like how they say the flu kills thousands each year - the weak and elderly that can't take it, but it's only the last straw and something would have did them in.

      • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:17PM (#35465946) Journal

        DST is something that's imposed by the government and cannot easily be avoided if you're in an area that observes it.

        You could always move. Arizona doesn't observe DST.

        Some people move to dry or warm climates for reasons related to health. This isn't really that much different.

      • by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @04:07PM (#35466352) Homepage

        So get up an hour earlier during winter rather than an hour later during summer, and you won't have to come in late or have your circadian rhythms disrupted.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553)
      Try working on the border between Illinois and Indiana, not only is there a timezone changeover, Illinois uses DST while Indiana does not. If I'm not mistaken part of the year their clocks match, and part of the year they're three hours different.
      • Which Indiana and Illinois are you talking about?
      • by jroysdon (201893)

        Hmm? I always thought Indiana was split between many time zones (with neighboring states' major cities). Are these articles wrong?
        http://www.infoplease.com/spot/daylight1.html [infoplease.com]
        https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Time_in_Indiana [wikimedia.org]

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Try working on the border between Illinois and Indiana, not only is there a timezone changeover, Illinois uses DST while Indiana does not. If I'm not mistaken part of the year their clocks match, and part of the year they're three hours different.

        I do work in central Indiana, and it's really really annoying. Not only do they not use DST, but their time zone splits the state in half, so an airport 20 miles away might be an hour ahead or behind your time at the hotel.

        I would have missed a flight once

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          I do work in central Indiana, and it's really really annoying. Not only do they not use DST, but their time zone splits the state in half

          Not in the last few years you haven't. Indiana switched to DST in 2005. Arizona and Hawaii are the last holdouts of sanity.

  • by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @02:47PM (#35465714)
    I saw an editorial cartoon perhaps 30 years ago. In the cartoon, Richard Nixon is depicted sitting in a rocking chair saying "I need to make this blanket longer, so that we can stay warm in the winter. So I'll cut one foot of the blanket off at one end, and sew it onto the other end." That's everything you need to know about Daylight Savings Time.
    • by peragrin (659227)

      While your analogy is correct, it misses the point.

      I stopped and looked at it one day. in NY the sun sets on Sept.1st at about 8:30pm. without daylight that means it sets at 7:30pm The northern states would literally lose the ability to do many things they can now simply because it will get dark out in August and September, instead of October.

      Evening sports, afterwork hobbies, anything that one does after 5pm(when most people stop working) will lose time to do things like mow the yard afte

      • by Plunky (929104)

        No wait.. what you seem to want is to stop work at 4pm instead of 5pm but you still want to call it 5pm? Then, you want to start work at 8am instead of 9am but you want to call it 9am? I think I'm getting this now.. so you want to have lunch at 12noon but call it 1pm!?

        Of course, some people don't have friendly employers and require that the government mandate the hours that they work.. but it sounds like a pretty hackish solution..

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Of course, some people don't have friendly employers and require that the government mandate the hours that they work.. but it sounds like a pretty hackish solution..

          It's funny that people are opposed to the "government imposed" daylight savings time, but don't seem to mind the government imposed timezones them self. You would think that timezones would follow straight lines, but they don' t they follow the border of states. Darn government interfering with everything.

          Personally, I think it's a good idea not having a bunch of kids standing in the dark waiting for a school bus during the winter. It's also nice to still have some light to get things done around the hou

      • You know, those of us who want the extra daylight could just get up an hour earlier and go into work earlier.
        • by osu-neko (2604)

          You know, those of us who want the extra daylight could just get up an hour earlier and go into work earlier.

          I can do that. However, I was under the impression the majority of people actually work for someone else, often at companies or organizations that have a set schedule. "You know, those of you who want this can just quit your jobs." Uh huh...

          • Instead of making everybody change their clocks, Congress could require companies to allow people to make those changes.
        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          You know, those of us who want the extra daylight could just get up an hour earlier and go into work earlier.

          And if you work are in management in an office building that might work. But if you work in a factory or a retail venue, that isn't an option. And, what about sending the kids to school?

          A better solution would be that people just get up when they need to. If the switch over is a problem, then start a week early adjusting your alarm 10 minutes a day so by the time the clocks do change, you're in synch with them.

      • by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:59PM (#35466282)
        When I was in the Navy, I spent a couple of years on Bermuda. (I know; a TOUGH assignment!) Bermuda doesn't (did not?) do DST. Instead, many businesses did "summer working hours"; come to work at 7 AM, no lunch break, and then close at 2 PM. If many employers offered flextime, or people could break out of the clock-watching habit, then they could have the benefits of DST all year long.

        The only thing "daylight savings time" does is force, by government decree, that EVERYBODY must do this at the SAME time, in lockstep.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          That doesn't work for people in say retail who don't get those hours. or for people at restaurants, who work regular shifts.

          by forcing everyone to do it lockstep the government makes sure it actually gets done.

          Because 99% of business will say you still have to work 8am to 5pm look at all the problems of doing things like telecommute.

          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

            That doesn't work for people in say retail who don't get those hours. or for people at restaurants, who work regular shifts.

            by forcing everyone to do it lockstep the government makes sure it actually gets done.

            Because 99% of business will say you still have to work 8am to 5pm look at all the problems of doing things like telecommute.

            Doesn't work very well for school students, either.

    • I think the benefits of the system are being curtailed by the fact it's being applied by longitude instead of latitude.

      As most know, the differences in sun rise and sun set align along the latitude (local solar time), yet the daylight savings adjustments are currently aligned against the averaged time zones by longitude. This was the easiest way to do it and it seems to be holding back the system (based off studies).

      If instead they setup latitude DST to run perpendicular to the date lines, we'd definitely s

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      Evidently you're not old enough to remember Eastern War Time (when daylight was extended two hours).

      Extending daylight means that activities that occur in the early evening are performed with the sun still out, which has various advantages, the primary being related to energy consumption-- less heat is needed, less electricity for lights, etc. There are various secondary arguments, such as fewer accidents.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time [wikipedia.org] .

      Please google the topic before opening your

  • by starfishsystems (834319) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @02:48PM (#35465718) Homepage
    In other news, I believe that waking up to an alarm clock is hazardous to my health.
    • by sjames (1099)

      It *IS*.

      If you need the alarm most of the time, you're not getting enough sleep. That, in turn leads to depression and possibly other disorders.

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @02:51PM (#35465738) Journal

    To solve the problem is VERY simple, but the politicians don't like it. When you move to summer time, move the clocks 1/2 hour forward instead of 1 hour... and then LEAVE them there. No more going forwards and backwards wasting time changing countless clocks and gadgets, and no more bickering about moving the timezone multiple hours forward like the UK had recently just to please some European fascists.

    Recent campaign for UK to be on Berlin Time [dailymail.co.uk]
    Portugal wants to move back to GMT [dailymail.co.uk]

    • by jfengel (409917)

      I agree about DST, though I don't see the point in being a half-hour out of synch with GMT. It just makes the mental math harder.

      I'd say just do away with daylight savings time the next time it comes around. You'd need to give everybody at least a year's notice anyway, so that devices can be updated and gotten into the retail channels.

  • by grizdog (1224414) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @02:52PM (#35465756) Homepage
    The problem with DST is the free lunch mentality that goes with it. It was the first response of Congress to the "energy crisis" of the early 70's, and has remained the solution of choice for similar problems ever since. People genuinely believe they are getting "an extra hour of daylight", and expect other little bonuses to be handed to them just as painlessly. Sorry for the rant, but it's long been a pet peeve of mine.
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>People genuinely believe they are getting "an extra hour of daylight"

      They are. People that aren't farmers don't care about daylight in the morning time, but they do care about it when they get off work. So it's exactly like getting a free hour of daylight from a utility point of view.

      DST should be made permanent.

    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:24PM (#35468546)
      Of course they're getting an extra hour of daylight. I can't believe your post was marked insightful. Way to miss the point.

      Sure it's trivial that the number of physical hours of daylight in a 24 hour period doesn't change by changing the clocks, but that's never been the reason to do so. The reason is that people's lives are regulated by clocks. They get to work at 9, and leave at 5, or whatever the hours are. That also means they sleep during the "night" that's defined by those clocks.

      The point of daylight savings is that the work hours and night hours are shifted, so that during the period when they are awake and working and living, the amount of daylight is, actually, truly, increased. Also, during the period when the clocks say it's time to sleep, the amount of darkness is increased.

      Daylight savings is a great idea, and will continue to be a great idea for as long as human societies are using clocks to synchronize economic activity.

      It didn't used to be like that. In medieval or ancient times, people's days started at dawn and ended at sunset, and that was the economic regulator. They didn't have appointments at ten, meetings at two, eight working hours etc. Instead they had longer work days in summer, shorter work days in winter, and meetings around midday, plus or minus a few hours.

      I can't believe I have to spell this out on slashdot.

      • by phoenix_rizzen (256998) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @12:09PM (#35472348)

        Except that it's all backwards.

        In the spring, we should be moving the clocks *back* an hour. That way, it would actually be dark outside before midnight in the summer, allowing us to actually sleep in *darkness*.

        Then, in the fall, we should be moving the clocks *ahead* an hour, so that it's actually light outside when we wake up, and it's *still* light outside when we are done work, giving us more "after work daylight".

        The current "daylight savings rules" are completely bass-ackwards!

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Actually, the primary point of the "extra hour of daylight" is that (in the eyes of Congress at least) it encourages people to go out and shop during the summer evenings. That's why the latest changes to when DST started and stopped were billed as a measure to revive the economy.

      Practicality, or the free time available to us peons, had nothing to do with it.

  • Goddamn right, Daylight Savings Time is bad for me.

    It fucks with my sleep cycle -- messes it up for a week or more -- every six months, like fucking clockwork.

    Repeal it, stop it, get rid of it forever.

    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      If it affects you that strongly, why not try getting up 15 minutes earlier every few days for the couple of weeks preceding it so you'll be eased into it instead of shifting entirely at once?

  • theorizes that shifts in biologic rhythms could trigger harmful inflammatory or metabolic changes at the cellular level, to which these individuals may be more susceptible."

    ...OR "Shit shit shit shit I'm late for work I'm gonna be fired again!" gets to you ...

    Everytime I read one of these "studies" that "shows" stuff, I can't help but think that the researcher is a press whore or is just trying to get more funding by throwing out a ridiculously convoluted "theory" to explain a simple observation. After all, the "people get stressed out when they're late for work" hypothesis doesn't get you as many grants.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      theorizes that shifts in biologic rhythms could trigger harmful inflammatory or metabolic changes at the cellular level, to which these individuals may be more susceptible."

      ...OR "Shit shit shit shit I'm late for work I'm gonna be fired again!" gets to you ... Everytime I read one of these "studies" that "shows" stuff, I can't help but think that the researcher is a press whore or is just trying to get more funding by throwing out a ridiculously convoluted "theory" to explain a simple observation. After all, the "people get stressed out when they're late for work" hypothesis doesn't get you as many grants.

      One fall Saturday night, I jokingly "reminded" my friend to turn his clock forward because of the time change - I said "Remember, fall forward, spring back". I figured his wife would catch the joke and correct him, and move the clock back an hour. Instead, he showed up for the 6AM restaurant opening time at 4 in the morning - which meant he must have gotten up at 2:30 AM ...

      So he's sitting in the mall parking lot all by himself, wondering where everyone is, when the police pull up to find out why some b

  • Turing the clock one hour ahead is bound to screw people up. So why not just turn the clock back 23 hours? The time will be the same, and we all can take that extra "Daylight Savings Day" as an opportunity to lounge around, doing nothing productive.

    • by calzones (890942)

      Actually, I think that if the switch to Standard Time occurred at 2am on a Monday, and then the switch to DST occurred at 4pm on a Friday, everyone would be happy.

      It basically gives you an hour longer to sleep in on a Monday in the fall, and lets you off work an hour early on a Friday in the spring, giving you the weekend to start re-adjusting. Everyone gets what they want with the least amount of stress.

  • [states-centric ..apologies] So what political will, or interest, is there in ending DST? Over my too many decades I've heard only "we really don't need this thing anymore" with only very faint and feeble "it's good because...". But since there's no money in getting rid of it (or is there...?) then our politicians get distracted by fighting to stay in power and it never gets addressed ( http://www.boingboing.net/2008/11/21/obama-might-get-rid.html [boingboing.net] )

    "People are out of work!" "People are starving!" "We'

  • Average? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:16PM (#35465928)
    Why don't they average it out to half an hour and just leave it there? Instead of swapping an hour twice a year, swap half an hour one time and don't bother doing it again.
    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Why change it at all?

      Really, if you shift your schedule... What to you miss? TV. TV is the problem here. The fact that shows are broadcast at a certain time. I predict (and hope) one day soon we'll be able to get The Daily Show and Colbert Report, when it is done production, and available on-demand. That way, you can watch them at any time. Without favorite TV shows to control our bed time, we can get as much sleep as we need. If you're willing to be a day behind that reality can be now. But it makes for ha

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Why don't they average it out to half an hour and just leave it there? Instead of swapping an hour twice a year, swap half an hour one time and don't bother doing it again.

      Maybe because moving just half an hour will have the US half an hour off the time zones from the rest of the world.

  • Semi Annual DST rant (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rob the Bold (788862) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:17PM (#35465942)
    I think the best part of DST is the opportunity to have this semi-annual anti-DST rant-fest. It's better than sunlight!
  • If the government gets rid of DST for the health benefits of a few then they should be required to make new laws for other causes of stress too: How about doing federal taxes, job interviews, coming home to the wife after a sneak trip to a strip club, traffic jams, law suits, the bogyman, XMAS shopping, public speaking, jock itch, earthquakes, tornadoes, ice storms and the list could go on forever. More so for some and less for others. Maybe our government should not try to protect us from all stresses
  • by zoid.com (311775) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:22PM (#35465986) Homepage Journal

    As someone that has to deal with DST and timezones in the IT world I say we go with straight GMT and get rid of all of the rest. Then let local areas adjust accordingly. So in central time zone areas we go to work @ 14:00 GMT and get off at @ 23:00...

  • ...and it's been working out fine thus far.

    Back during the last time change (autumn of 2010), I decided to not change my alarm clock's time. My computer and laptop would auto-adjust, and I'd still have to change the times on my DSLR camera, e-reader, and Nintendo DS. But the alarm clock time remains the same. When the alarm clock shows "9:30 PM", I go to bed (even though it's actually 8:30 PM). When the alarm clock shows "4:00 AM" (even though it's actually 3:00 AM), it sounds and I wake up.

    The effect i

  • We have daylight savings to *save daylight*. Because in winter-time, we have less sun.
    The human mind is closely connected to the sun. Less sun means less happines. Your health might also be connected to this. E.g. you move less when there is less sun, and you get less excercise.

    I also have to point that there seem to be no study that proves that removing DST means less suicides or heart attacks.

  • Hi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @03:41PM (#35466136)

    My name is BMO and I live in Rhode Island. We here in the Northeast US are far enough east that during the winter, we go to work in the dark and we come home in the dark. Unless you have windows in your office or stock room or machine shop, or whatever, you never see the sun except on weekends. It's like being divorced and having partial custody - of sunlight.

    The Eastern time zone is so wide that it stretches all the way to the Eastern border of Illinois. This is just nuts. When DST finally shows up in March, suddenly the sun sets at a reasonable hour.

    New England and NY should secede from the Union and join the Maritime Provinces simply to get a sane time zone.

    I'm sorry for ranting, but I'm tired of my Seasonal Affective Disorder and I can't wait for DST to get here. See? My SAD is showing!

    --
    BMO

    • That's your latitude, not your longitude. The number of hours of daylight is essentially the same at all points at a given latitude on a given day. If you're doing double dark commutes, you're actually just about properly situated in terms of standard time matching solar time. If you were farther east, you'd get morning light; farther west, it would be evening.

      Actually, I can't imagine the summers up there -- I live in the South, and find the idea of sunlight at 9 pm somewhat disturbing. Then again, I
  • DST starts roughly 80 days after the solstice and ends roughly 50 before the soltice. Changing clocks based onthe season rather than the actual amount of daylight or the time of sunrise is wasteful.

  • For those areas affected, for the next DST, just go 30 minutes in the appropriate direction and then STOP CHANGING THE CLOCKS FOREVER AFTER.

    Tada, Simple cure and one final gig for the Y2K / DST programmers.

    • by paul248 (536459)

      Brilliant, then you need to deal with half hours every time you convert to/from UTC.

  • DST is good for all those enjoying that extra hour of daylight after work and, like me, don't get up early enough to notice the sun seems to rise an hour later.

    Having DST in winter is useless because of that later rise of the sun, around my place it'd mean the sun would only rise around 10 o'clock.

    When I hear about the health issues of some it makes me wonder how they cope with a night out in town...

  • by saikou (211301) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @04:29PM (#35466504) Homepage

    has already decided to end daylight-saving time [telegraph.co.uk].
    Because "power savings" from this back-and-forth are 0.2%. And hassles from switch time are simply not worth it :) Heck, Arizona lived without DST without problems...

  • Changing the clock is idiotic. If anything, working times should be shifted, not "time" itself.

    For the last years, since I don't watch broadcasted TV anymore, I only became aware of the DST day because my computers showed a different time than the clock in my microwave.

  • DST is also known to significantly boost traffic accidents after the switch, as people are tired and make more mistakes while driving.

    It's time to abandon this archaic switch.

  • Blame Benjamin Franklin!

    It was actually he who suggested it!

    http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/franklin3.html [webexhibits.org]

    It is very witty!

  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @06:07PM (#35467200)

    Here in Canada, most of us are far enough north that our summers are bright, DST or not. Here in Vancouver at "only" 49 degrees north, the latest sunset (if we stayed on standard time) is about 2025 PST, with twilight until nearly 2200 PST in June and July. Further north it's brighter, later. I've been in Yukon (63 degrees north) in May when it was like a bright overcast day at 0100. How much more do people want?

    By the same token, our winters are dark, no matter what we do. The earliest sunset in Vancouver is about 1600 PST, and the latest sunrise is about 0800 PST.

    I think messing with the clocks is pointless. There may be a sweet spot, say, around 40 degrees north, but Canada is well north of that.

    ...laura

    • by hoytt (469787)
      It's the same here in the Netherlands. Around June 21 twilight lasts past 22:45 and around 04:30 you'll see the eastern sky turn red again.
      Not to mention the fact that the Central European Timezone runs from the Poland - Belarus border (~23 degrees east) to the western most tip of Spain (~9 degrees west), which is further west than Great Britain.

      We had it somewhat solved prior to world war two. The Netherlands had its own GMT +00:20 timezone which went quite well with the fact that Amsterdam is about f
  • We could go to 10 minute time zones! Or just have everyone set their clock to GMT and just have some people getting up and going to work at 2am...

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