This past weekend, people across most of the country set their clocks ahead Saturday night when they retired for the evening. While gaining an extra hour during the fall doesnt seem to have any ill effects on people, springing ahead can play havoc with our sleep and our health.
During World War I, Germany was the first country to implement the use of daylight savings time in hopes of saving fuel during the war. England followed suit, as did other countries in Europe, and by the end of 1918, the United States had jumped on board. A mere seven months later, the US reversed what they called fast time and the clocks were set back. It made its comeback in 1942 when President Roosevelt implemented year round daylight savings time. During this time, they referred to it as war time, so there was Eastern War time, Central War Time and Pacific War Time. After World War II ended, each of the time zones were renamed, Eastern Peace Time, Central Peace Time and Pacific Peace Time. Now known as daylight savings time in the United States, it is in place in over 70 countries around the world, although the start and end dates vary.
While many enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the spring and summer months, adjusting to the change can take a little time. A Swedish study in 2008 showed that the risk of having a heart attack increased about five percent in those first three days when the clocks moved forward, although the risk decreases when the clocks move back. Another study conducted in 2011 shows a 10 percent increase in heart attacks those first three days after switching to daylight savings time. It has been reported that there is an increase in the number of suicides when the clocks change to daylight savings time, although no link has been found between the two.
Many people are groggy, sluggish, out of sorts and just not quite with it. There is an increase in the number of traffic accidents the Monday after the time change as people head out the door to work and school, still feeling like they should be sleeping in their beds. While the number of vehicle incidents may be higher, studies have shown the number of pedestrian deaths decreased.
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