Circadian Science on Daylight Savings Time

Circadian Science on Daylight Savings Time

In This Article

Spring Forward, Fall Bank

Did you notice a change in your sleep or energy levels when we pushed our clocks forward recently?

Most Americans have turned their clocks back every fall and ahead every spring since 1966 with little pushback . . . until recently. Mounting evidence suggests that changing clocks to accommodate daylight savings time is linked to increased accidents and health concerns.2

Pushback has become so strong that the EU decided to vote on whether to continue changing the clocks. Earlier this year, the European parliament voted 410 to 192 to discontinue daylight savings time (DST) forever! According to the vote, European nations are given the choice to stay in “permanent summertime” or “permanent winter time.”4,5

The importance of our chronobiology gained significance most recently when the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine went to research on circadian medicine and chronobiology.1Soon, medical doctors will have the option to choose circadian medicine as their specialty. 

Find my numerous articles on circadian medicine here.

Risks of Daylight Savings Time

Studies have found an increase in car accidents on the Monday following the spring shift into DST, as well as an increase in accidents when leaving DST in the fall, as a result of folks staying up late knowing they had an extra hour of sleep.2

Another study reported 16% more car accidents on the first day of DST and 12% more on the second day.6 Back in 2001, public health educators were advised to post warnings about the dangers of altered sleep and possible drinking habits going into and out of DST.2

A European study evaluated autopsies for ten years (2006-2015) around the spring and fall time changes. They found increased deaths from all causes during the first week of DST each spring, including increased suicides.3

One of the major concerns with DST is the impact of altered circadian rhythms on sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to mood-related concerns and increased heart attacks. Many studies have linked going into DST to a significantly increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), and coming out with a mildly increased risk.7,8

Finally, there have been studies published on the impact of time change to medical offices, hospitals, and clinical laboratories, all of which have instruments set with timers. Many drugs are administered by timer, and much of the equipment in research labs is controlled that way. The impact of time change presents significant challenges to the medical and science industries. 

Circadian Rhythms: The Ayurvedic Perspective

Circadian rhythms are extremely sensitive. These are the rhythms of nature that compel birds to fly south, whales to migrate, and leaves to fall. While shifting clocks by one hour may seem innocuous, the impact is actually quite strong and has been well studied. 

In one study, just one roundtrip transatlantic flight was enough to significantly alter the microbiomes of the passengers. When researchers measured gut bugs upon their return, they found a significant surge in unhealthy bacteria linked to obesity and diabetes, suggesting that our microbiome is powerfully impacted by circadian stress.9

Because of these subtle yet powerful changes from circadian stress, Ayurveda puts much attention on eating with the seasons (called ritucharya) and living in sync with daily rhythms (called dinacharya).

DST or no, take my 28-Day Ayurveda Challenge and spend a month in perfect circadian rhythm! The best way to learn Ayurveda is to experience Ayurveda!



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Dr. John

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