There are a lot of things to dislike about daylight saving time: the disruption in our sleep schedule, the onslaught of seasonal puns in retail advertisements, the fact that it doesn’t work as well at saving energy as we’ve always been told, and thus, it really serves no purpose.
But have you ever thought about the possibility that daylight saving time might actually be dangerous? Turning the clocks back should technically amount to an extra hour of sleep, but this is not necessarily true. When the clocks change, whether it is falling back or springing forward, studies have found people’s sleep cycles are interrupted which actually causes them to sleep less. One hour of sleep lost or gained may sound like a small change, but studies have shown it can have major effects on both our physical and mental health. In turn, these negative health effects set off a chain reaction that affects other aspects of our life. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a vehicle accident as those who sleep eight hours or more; people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk to be involved in a vehicle accident four to five times more.
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied the daylight saving time period (from March to November) for 10 years and discovered there was a 17 percent increase in traffic incident-related deaths the Monday after the spring time change. Traffic fatalities all that week were also higher than average. Some of the effects can be attributed to lower visibility (the fact that it’s earlier, and therefore darker, than drivers are accustomed to), but most of the accidents, experts say, are because people are struggling to stay awake behind the wheel.