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3 negative daylight saving time effects on the human body

More than 1.5 billion people across 70 countries in the world observe Daylight Saving Time (DST) in one form or another. DTS allows us to enjoy more sunny summer evenings by moving our clocks an hour forward in the spring. While the extra hour of sleep is always welcome, it is not without cost. There are daylight saving time effects on the human body that are not so positive you should know about.

1. DST disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle

You would think that moving our clocks an hour forward in the spring and returning the clock one hour in November is not a big deal. But, a notable daylight saving time effects on the human body is that it disrupts your body’s natural sleep cycle. The body’s natural sleep cycle follows a 24 hour internal clock affected by our circadian rhythms. This internal circadian clock allows us to sleep and wake up about the same time every day. It is the reason we tend to wake up just before the alarm goes off. Changes in circadian rhythms make it difficult to fall asleep at night and even more difficult to wake up in the morning. This happens because the human circadian system does not adjust to DST. As a result, DTS can cause cluster headaches, debilitating chronic pain and other health problems associated with irregular bedtime routines. DST basically sets off jetlags on an entire population, both during the transitions in and out of daylight saving.

2. DST increases rates of heart attack

According to a 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the disruption of the body’s circadian clock and loss of an hour of sleep all at once results in a big spike in rates of heart attack. The study found that the rate of heart attacks increased by about 5% during the first three weekdays of DST compared with the average rate during other times of the year. Increased rates of heart attack do not happen as much in the fall when daylight saving time ends. But, lack of sleep can release stress hormones, which in turn increase inflammations that can cause more severe problems in people already at high risk of a heart attack.

3. DST boosts suicide risk

Other negative daylight saving time effects on the human body are increased mood swings, depression and suicide rates. The systems that control sleep and mood in the brain are directly tied to the body’s internal circadian clock. Disruption of the body’s circadian clock and sudden loss of an hour of sunlight can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression in some people.Beyond mood swings and depression, the NEJM study showed that rates of male suicide increases significantly after DST goes into effect in the spring. Even more surprising was that the disruption of the body’s circadian clock also increases rates of male suicide during the fall although people gain an hour of sleep when DST ends.

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