In this The Conversation article, Elizabeth Damato, associate professor of nursing, discusses the negative health effects of daylight savings time and what happens when your body doesn't get enough sleep.
On Sunday in (most) of the United States, we again advanced the time on our clocks by one hour. Shifting clocks an hour can’t be that much of a big deal, right? Actually, it is. In our sleep-deprived society, every minute counts. Losing 60 precious minutes of sleep can really hurt.
Your mom always told you get eight hours of sleep (and might still be nagging you about that no matter how old you are). We all know that getting enough sleep is critical to our minds and bodies. And yet despite this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey revealed that more than one-third of American adults typically sleep less than seven hours over a 24-hour period.
And, although less scientifically rigorous, a 2013 Gallup Poll found that 26 percent of respondents sleep only six hours per night. This means that up to one-quarter of our population may be sorely affected when the clocks jumped ahead.
What’s the risk to those who are already “sleep starved” when they lose an additional hour? I, for one, would not want to be driving next to that group of people on the freeway. A 2001 study looking at 21 years worth of data on traffic accidents found a significant increase in accidents occurs during the day after the “spring ahead” time change.