New Yorkers and most everyone else in the United States switched to Daylight Savings Time early this past Sunday. This change gives more daylight in the evening making long summer days even longer. Daylight Saving Time was originally instituted during WWI, but has become common primarily in North America and Europe, but not world-wide.
For most people, the switch from Standard Time to Daylight Time is a minor inconvenience. At worst, most people lose a little sleep and miss a meeting or two. However, for some people the consequences of switching to Daylight Saving Time is more significant.
The change can have health implications. It affects individuals’ sleep schedules, especially for individuals whose circadian rhythms are well established. These people sleep less and find themselves less able to function at their normal levels after the change to Daylight Saving.
Most people eventually adjust to the change to what used to be called Summer Time. However, during the adjustment period they are much more vulnerable to workplace accidents. This is not based solely on anecdotal evidence but on studies that show an increase in job-related accidents after the yearly switch to Daylight Saving Time.
These studies also show an increase in traffic accidents and even a larger number of heart attacks right after the switch.
Some experts recommend that sensitive individuals who are likely to be significantly affected by a time zone change ease into it, setting their clocks back 15 minutes each day for several days before the official time change. This makes the change more gradual and less likely to increase sleepiness on the job when the official change occurs.
The switch to Daylight Saving is not all bad news. The yearly reminder that spring is coming can improve mood and productivity among workers. However, workers who are especially sensitive to the switch should take extra care during the days that follow the adoption of Daylight Saving Time to avoid workplace and driving accidents.
Source: CBSNewYork, “Seen At 11: Daylight Saving Time Can Be A Danger To Your Health,” Mar. 7, 2014.