Knackered after the clock change? Here’s why Daylight Saving Time is failing us

It’s about time we discussed this

Daylight Saving Time tired dog
As if winter depression is not enough, we lose an hour of sleep every spring (Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash)

Like most of the nation, we woke up extremely unhappy this morning having lost one precious hour of sleep. Feeling like the fault couldn’t possibly be with us, we set off to do what any self respecting Flounder-er would do and find out why the Daylight Saving Time (DST) system is failing us.

In an article dedicated to the Negative Health Effects of DST, Time and Date (aptly named, we respect that) point out that a survey conducted by sleep scientists and clinicians found over 50% of respondents felt tired immediately following the clock change. In fact, Anne Buckle adds that publications in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine have since called for abolishing DST altogether and introducing standardised timekeeping year-round.

The side effects of Daylight Saving Time: A case of the Mondays 

You’d be… um… “pleased” to know that an energy dip is not the only consequence from the time change that we have to suffer. The disruption caused to our body clocks, minor as it is at a mere hour, can actually throw our circadian rhythm (the fancy term for the natural process that regulates your sleep cycle) way out of whack. 

A series of studies from around the globe cited by Time and Date found that DST-induced tiredness is believed to be the cause of many-a-traffic accident on the Monday immediately following the clock change. That same fateful Monday is also notorious for its spike of workplace injuries compared to other Mondays in the calendar. 

There are also several other health-related issues commonly linked to the spring time change, including an increased risk of heart attacks and a higher number of miscarriages in patients who are trying in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Daylight Saving Time can aggravate depression

This is not entirely surprising. It’s been a hard winter, and days have finally started getting lighter. Then bam! The clocks change and we lose an hour of precious daylight, which, let’s be honest, can hit our mental health quite hard. In fact, DST is believed to be a trigger for several mental illnesses such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and bipolar disorder.

A Danish study quoted in the article claims that the clock change caused an 11% increase in depression cases, while Australian scientists observed a spike in male suicide rates in the days immediately following the shift. 

The downsides of Daylight Saving Time

Continuing The Never-Ending DST Debate elsewhere in their publication, Time and Date also call out the practice for its lack of efficiency – both in terms of energy and money. According to the article, when Daylight Saving Time was originally introduced, artificial light made up a big chunk of our society’s energy consumption. But nowadays, between work and relaxation, we use so much energy that the titular savings from the time change are negligible. 

Not only that, but DST actually has hidden economic costs. For one, it costs money to integrate computer systems that support Daylight Saving Time. Plus, between the decreased productivity in workers due to tiredness, and all the accidents caused by this fatigue, companies are virtually losing money from the clock change. 

Apparently, Daylight Saving Time has its benefits (longer evenings, less artificial light, etc etc), but we are not convinced it’s worth the loss of sleep and the fallout from that. The good news? Come autumn, we’ll get to sleep an extra hour when the clocks return to normal.