Feeling a bit off this morning? You’re not alone. For most Americans, time shifted back one hour as daylight saving time came to an end for the year early Sunday morning.
Many folks may not detect a huge difference in their day-to-day routines. But for some, the shift between daylight saving time and standard time can take a toll. According to some health experts, the time change may bring more than just the inconvenience of changing clocks — it could be affecting our health.
What is daylight saving time?
Where does the time shift come from?
Daylight saving time originates from both train schedules as well as a World War I-era effort to save fuel and power, according to CNN. The practice became official throughout most of the U.S. with the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
Nowadays, many Americans associate daylight saving time as the point in which clocks move forward one hour in March and stay that way until November, when time “falls back” to standard time for roughly four months.
The original idea of shifting time to preserve daylight hours is often credited to New Zealand artist George Vernon Hudson, but has ties to Benjamin Franklin as well, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
How does daylight saving time affect our health?
The twice-a-year hour change may not sound extreme, but research increasingly shows that disrupting our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns can put us at higher risk of strokes and heart attacks, per The Wall Street Journal.
“During standard time, noon tends to be the point at which the sun is highest in the sky. But when we shift to daylight saving time, what happens is that relationship between the wall clock and the sun clock are clearly skewed,” Dr. Sabra Abbott, a Northwestern Medicine physician and associate professor of neurology in the school’s department of sleep medicine, told USA Today.
These “competing clocks” can lead to sleep deprivation, which various studies have shown can result in “increased risk of depression, substance use disorder, cardiovascular disease and more,” USA Today reported.
However, there are ways you can combat negative side effects of the change. The New York Times outlined several ways to prepare for the time change, including enjoying that initial extra hour of sleep (if your schedule allows it), rescheduling your exercise or outdoor activities to align with the sunshine and taking extra care when maintaining a healthy diet.
Is there a push to make daylight saving time permanent?
Of the 48 states that practice Daylight Saving time — Hawaii and Arizona do not observe the time change — roughly 20 states are on board, to some degree, with making daylight saving time permanent, according to NPR.
For most states, approving the go-ahead of permanent daylight saving time depends on surrounding states and on the federal government’s final say. The Sunshine Protection Act, which is currently stalled in Congress and yet to be decided on, proposes the permanent time change for the entire country.