Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a practice of adjusting clock to forward 1 hour to prolong evening and save more natural energy. It’s widely practiced during summer time in Canada, US, Australia. Generally clocks are forwarded one hour in the beginning of spring and adjusted backwards to standard time in autumn.
Although DST doesn’t control the sunlight, it controls when sun rises or sets. This practice has undergone a lot of researches to analyze the effects of DST in our personal and professional life.
The time shifts annually on Monday, so after the change a lot of effects are found on our health. The major problems are:
- Risk of heart attack
- Increase in road accidents
- Injuries at workplace
- Decrease in productivity
- Increase in depression
According to a Swedish study after the time shift, for the first three weeks the risk of heart attack increases by five percent. Traffic accidents are caused by the lack of sleep after switching to new time. Although time if forwarded one hour, it may cause sleep disorder. Lack of sleep causes tiredness and tiredness makes driving vulnerable. Going to workplace tired lead to increase in injuries by five percent and less productivity.
David Wagner, Professor in University of Oregon has briefly discussed the health effects of DST.
Lack of sleep is a common effect of DST. Lack of sleep has caused train accidents, death of crew members in space shuttle challenger and few other accidents. People occasionally get inadequate sleep whether or not for DST. But when the time shift starts, inadequate sleep in majority people increases. Professor Wagner has examined sleep patterns and how sleep affects employees in different ways. He concluded that lack of sleep costs social and work outcomes.
Extra daylight isn’t helping too much
DST was first practiced in Canada in 1908. After Canada, Germany and Austria began this practice in 1916. It became a law in the US in 1918. At first the benefits of daylight time saving was more, but over time new problems are arising with the occurring of annual time shifts.
Professor Wagner and colleagues examined sleep patterns and its effects on both blue and white collar workers.
They first examined sleep patterns in working class employees. He and his colleagues found out from a database of mining injuries that daylight saving time increased injuries at workplace by 6 percent and workday loss increased by 67 percent.
They examined the amount of internet usage by white collar workers following annual time shift. They found out employees tend to search for entertainment categories more in the internet on Mondays following DST. Workers misused internet access during daylight saving time than before or after the time shift. This behavior is called cyber loafing. Due to less sleep people tend to become less productive.
Estimation from economists is that DST costs American economy 434 million USD per year.
Annual time shift also affects judges
The research has also shown adverse effect in moral judgement in people. The same group of researchers examined intern search patterns and began their own experiment. In the experiment half of the researchers were kept awake whole night and other half were allowed to sleep overnight. Following this experiment the next day all researchers were given scenarios containing different levels of moral subject. From the scenarios the researchers that had full night of sleep recognized the moral issues better than the ones who were awake whole night.
A recent study revealed that judges tend to hand out more severe sentences to convicted individuals. This shows that inadequate sleep can influence important decisions in life.
All evidences and studies show that negative outcomes are varied across societies. It’s better to change public policy rather than changing time. Instead of chasing daylight people can try to save lives and money.