How Daylight Saving Time affects the human body


Every year on the second Sunday of March, most Americans turn their clocks forward to mark the arrival of Daylight Saving Time.

For BYU student Chris Miner, the transition isn’t always seamless. He moved from Arizona to Utah for school and the time change still causes confusion.

“My car hadn’t changed yet and so I thought I had like an hour to get to a meeting with a friend but I didn’t … and my phone (had) the right time but I wasn’t looking at my phone,” Miner said.

However, the shift in time can cause more than mere confusion. Dr. Dixie Harris, a sleep and pulmonary specialist at Intermountain Health, explained our bodies have an internal clock, and the abrupt one-hour change forward can disrupt it completely.

“When you do this fast switch, because you don’t phase into this, you just go one day and the next day you lose an hour,” Harris said.

Harris explained most people lose an hour of sleep, which can have a ripple effect during the first week of the time change.

“There’s more strokes and heart attacks during that time … more accidents at work, more mistakes in the hospital setting, also more problems with driving accidents,” Harris said.

Rodrigo Veas-Wall, who holds a doctorate in counseling psychology, echoed Harris’ concerns. He emphasized moving clocks forward to have more daylight in the evenings comes at cost.

“We need energy and we need to feel well as often as earlier in the day, but we’re not getting that boost of energy that we would get,” Veas-Wall said.

Veas-Wall drew attention to the correlation between biological changes caused by the time change and the onset of emotional symptoms.

“What happens is that you get the situation where you’re not producing energy, so you’re just unmotivated and that sort of turns into depression for a lot of people,” Veas-Wall said.

Miner is well aware of the impact of the time change in one’s daily routine.

“Even that small change to your rhythm every day, your body feels it. Even if you’re not super aware of it mentally, your body keeps count of it,” Miner said.

Both Harris and Veas-Wall emphasized the importance of listening to one’s body. To combat the effects of the time shift, they recommended people seek sunlight in the mornings to boost energy levels and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

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