What Is Daylight Savings? When Does It Start?
Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend on November 4. The clocks “fall back” and Americans get an extra hour of sleep that morning. Daylight Saving Time, which began on March 11 this year, is a shifting of the clocks forward, so that sunrise and sunset happens later in the day.
But it’s not without controversy. “Ever since the institution of Daylight Saving Time, there has been controversy regarding whether it accomplishes its goals or not, and if so — at what cost,” Timothy Morgenthaler, Mayo Clinic’s co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine, says.
The practice was originally created to provide, as Winston Churchill said, an enlarged opportunity “for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people.” By shifting the clocks forward, the average worker of an industrialized society sees an extra hour of daylight after work.
But the time changes have adverse effects on health. For instance, the time change of March and November often change sleep patterns for five to seven days. People who are sleep-deprived can find themselves struggling with basic tasks like memory, learning and even social interactions.
Studies have also shown that these time changes strongly affect the number of heart attacks. When we “spring forward” the risk of heart attacks increase by 25 percent. A “fall back” decreases the risk for the condition by 21 percent. But any change in our clocks affects the number of strokes. For two days after we change our clocks, a study at the 2016 American Academy of Neurology found that the rate of strokes increases by 8 percent.
And as our health worsens, our health care does too. Hospital record-keeping fails each time our clocks change. For example, Epic Systems, a popular health records software, deletes records and forces employees to work around the system’s flaws each November and March. For two hours each year, hospital staff revert to the 1970s and take extra chart notes by hand.
Some hospitals shut off the software entirely to avoid glitches. Some patients leave before seeing a health care provider, according to Dr. Steven Stack, former president of the American Medical Association.
While you may be grateful for the extra hour of sleep this week, make sure to take care of your health as well.