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Could daylight saving kill?

March 26th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Much like travelling over time zones, daylight savings has the ability to seriously disturb our body clocks.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/26/sun.blog.jpg
caption="Do you think daylight savings can kill?"]

The Circadian rhythm comes from a clock in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which tell our body when to go to sleep and when to wake up in the morning.

When sleep patterns are disturbed, the results can be dangerous.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine two years ago suggested heart attacks rise about 5 percent after the spring change.

Data studied over 30 years in Australia suggests there’s even a rise in suicides – especially among men.

Researchers say that small shifts in diurnal rhythms are potentially destabilizing in vulnerable individuals.

We'd like to know what you think.

Have you noticed any significant changes in our body or mood after daylight savings? Do you think moving forward an hour can destabilize your body enough to cause deaths or suicides?

Please leave your comments below and let us know where you're writing from.

Filed under:  General
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Pawel

    I agree, it does!

    March 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  2. Crawl

    I really don't think it does. At least, not based on the information presented here. There may be a correlation, but that doesn't imply an influence. I'd say it's more likely allergies or stress because of the tax season. There are infinite other factors.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  3. Phil Patterson

    Changing the clocks two times a year is crazy. All that changes is the clock and it fouls up everyone's rhythm. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  4. Jurgen R. Brul

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    March 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  5. Alan

    I, like many people, change my rhythm on a daily basis – going to sleep or waking up at different times on different days – the fact that the time on the clock changes one hour doesn't make any difference for me. Maybe those who keep to a very strict regular timetable find the hour change every six months a complete shock to the body?!

    March 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  6. José

    yes it is disturbing, you never adapt and in my case I used to get grouchy and sleepy, not anymore, I live in central America now, Honduras to be precise and we have no daylight savings here and there is no significant difference in daytime hours between summer and winter.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  7. Capop

    I have a feeling it's only a correlation. The cause of an increase in heart attacks after spring would be more likely attributed to warmer weather and increased activity levels rather than a one hour change in time.

    It would be easy to test by seeing if there is as a significant a rise in heart attacks when someone travels and adjusts to a different time zone.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  8. W. E. Gutman

    NONSENSE. In fact, depression and suicides are more apt to increase in winter, when days are shorter, especially among those suffering from a severe form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    March 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  9. bki

    i did personaly notice a change this year, but i don't think it is that much related to the time change, and if it is it is in a positive way – i love summer and the time change is a sign that it's time to start shifting gears. i feel that there are people negativly effected and positively effected. i do not feel that the tradition needs to be changed. every change in the world will impact people, if this small change is enough to put them over the edge then the next small change in there life would have too. humans are only as fragil as they are willing to let themselves be. tell people that something will give them a hard time and the strong will survive and the weak will suffer. look at chemical testing therory, toxic level is only put at what will kill 50% of the people. the the weaker 50% are always being bombarded with things beyond what they body and mind can handle. shall we pad everything with jello so that no one gets hurt or shall we teach the weak how to cope?

    March 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  10. Kynt

    I agree. Some people keep a very strict rhythm, and they have to keep it for various reasons. If you have animals you know that they react to it, as well. I don't think daylight savings makes you suicidal but I'm ready to believe that it can trigger dormant tendencies.

    I think people who don't have a strict rhythm or are not bound to a strict rhythm (and therefore can consciously or unconsciously adapt over several days) may not notice any effects at all. People who work in shifts, for example, though, or who have to take meds at certain times of day or night may feel an effect.

    The biggest problem for me is that different countries and states switch on different weekends for different amounts of time – It's difficult and confusing to keep track.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  11. bki

    Jurgen R. Brul – how do you reach such a strong conclusion from that?!?!

    March 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  12. Abraham Jansen

    Do you think moving forward an hour can destabilize your body enough to cause deaths or suicides?

    Not at all. If so,a lot of crewmembers on board ships and planes have passed away and are still going to pass away !

    March 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  13. jean ursule

    If we can save energy this way and get rid of the people like the one that wrote the comments above mine then day light savings are just great!

    March 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  14. Sara

    I think it's all psychological, more than anything else. I do not know how necessary it is to do this change though....how did people live in the past?! Most likely the sun rays play a big part of a human's overall well being. There are studies that show that depression rates are higher in places like Scandinavia where people have six months of dark for example. Also, some people may deliberately change their sleeping patterns; staying up later in the fall because the body thinks it's still early...etc..

    It does feel a lot better to wake up when it's light outside, with the sun almost shining in, and it is still 6am!

    March 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  15. mike

    I don't know why they just don't leave it on Daylight Saving all year! Who cares if it's dark at 9:00 am in Decmber. Better that than dark at 4:30pm!! Switching it for only 3 1/2 months in winter is silly!!

    March 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  16. Charlie

    They should just do away with night time altogether.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  17. Peg

    I agree. I have always though that time change was wrong. We need to go by the rhythms of the seasons and not by man. Nature has a plan and to disrupt it is rather arrogant of us.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  18. Verner

    I have a few gym friends who work in the field of security. They often have to work during nights which has really changed their physical strength.
    I do believe that sleeping habits affect our health. Intensive studying, partying and such exhaust me a lot.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  19. darketernal

    I work in day and night shifts, and change my waking and sleeping pattern each week with 7,5 hours , i've been doing it for over 10 years. According to that study i should have been dead a long time by now from a heartattack that i experienced during a suicide, im still alive just like those other folks who work different shifts, its just not true.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  20. Zlata

    For me it's disturbing and it's a thief one hour of my sleep. I wake up at 6:00 and I go sleep at 22:00. At summer time : I must wake up at 6:00 when I must go to work. I go sleep at 22:00 as usually, but it's only 21:00 and it's too early to fall asleep. I fall asleep at 23:00 – it's "my natural-time to sleep". Result: ( -1 hour). For those who needn't go to work it's no problem.
    I'm from Slovakia.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  21. Moe

    this study is a complete waste of time, while people are dieing everyday from hunger, poverty, and wars, you are studying the impact of 1 hour time difference every 6 months? idiots

    March 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  22. Anonymouse

    All I know is that cocktail time comes an hour earlier.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  23. paigemom

    I have struggled with depression and insomnia following time change for decades, both in Fall and Spring.. It takes me a month to adapt, and has become worse as I age (nearing 60).. I am a 'health nut' and a daily exerciser and try to get outside in the sun whenever possible.
    Some years I have taken an antidepressant for a month before and after the time shift, but of course, would rather not. I have oft considered moving to a state that doesn't have Daylight/Standard Time shifts.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  24. Aaron

    I'm one of those rare individuals who do not get jet-lag. I nearly instantly sync up with the local time zone (even overseas). Maybe I have a malfunctioning hypothalamus...

    March 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  25. Chris

    How could it make anybody worse? the sun shines longer and later, and it's warmer out. what's so bad about that?

    March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  26. Rick

    Why couldn't we split the difference and set the clock back half an hour
    and leave it that way. Their would only be half an hour difference at any
    given time of the year and you would not notice the difference hardly at all.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  27. Matt

    We are creatures of habit, what ever habit you have created that is what you are going to live by.All this talk about time is crazy, I think it's time for a drink!

    March 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  28. Frito

    After living in Arizona for over 40 years we can tell you with confidence that the concept of daylight savings is completely ludicrous! We have never had to change our clocks and can't understand why anyone would want to.
    If you need to get up earlier or start work later...just do it.
    Daylight savings saves nothing and is just plain stupid and archaic.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  29. Ana

    Yes, daylight savings time makes me cranky. I HATE to have to wake up while it's still dark. My two kids (5 and 9) also hate! I don't see much advantage during this period in savings, since it gets dark later anyway, in the summer. We wake up while it's dark; we have dinner while the sun is still out...and 6 months on this schedule is not fair! The government tries to save money in energy and spends a lot of money in other foolish things. It doesn't make any sense.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  30. Marco A. Olvera

    I say that it is all in our heads, it could be in the hypothalamus or just simply yhe idea of change which many people are afraid of.
    I've always adjusted to these changes in 24 hours or less by simply adapting, wether its daylight saving time or a flight across the continent.
    my parents are in their 70's and have no problem either.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  31. Sarah

    What an interesting study! I've been feeling blue lately and just couldn't understand why. Perhaps The Daylights Savings could be a reason why my not so great week turned into a bad week.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  32. Ed

    Some people may be adversely affected by the time change but for most people a one-hour time difference is easily adjusted to.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  33. Ricky

    I don't even know why we still use daylights saving. Maybe a hundred years ago when more people worked in farms it made sense, but now it's just stupid. I live in San Diego and during the winter it gets dark at 4:00 pm and then sunrise is at 5:30 am! I would prefer to have one more hour of daylight in the afternoon.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  34. ume

    day light savings is rubbish!

    March 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  35. Donna A. Reuter

    I have lupus and fibromyalgia, DST really is not the best thing for our neurochemicals to function properly.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  36. dr André Kruger

    It is totally stupid to run arond changing all the clocks' faces. In South Africa we simply say, well, these months, we start a bit earlier, those, a bit later. More flexible, more intelligent.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  37. IC

    Daylight savings put me in a better mood because it's still light out after work when I get out and I can go out to exercise. I would say "fall back" causes more deaths because people can't seem to drive in the dark very well.
    Is changing the time the same as jetlag? Wouldn't the body adjust to it just the same? Why don't you look into death rates of travelers who change timezones every couple of days? Or students who have morning classes some days and night classes and wake up during different hours of the day? Come on people.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  38. Martin

    I thing we should be careful drawing conclusions from positive correlations. If one goes by positive correlation along, then the leading cause of death is being born, as there is eventually a 100% correlation.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  39. Emo Rej

    Can't really say one way or another as we stay the same year round. No fuss...no bother.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  40. Masky

    American philosopher Emerson was right when he said "The politics and the polyticians are the worst kind of dirts of our society." They (the politicians) govern the education, economy, science, technology, and even the fate of human beings (and how to poison or kill them in the name of spreading democracy) ... as if they are born to be experts in everything... All such stupid things as changing the clock two times a year is their invention... and I fully agree w/ Phil Patterson that all that changes is the clock...

    March 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  41. jill

    I fill like my body is straggling to adopt to the time change in the spring. exercise is much harder, i loose breath easier, sooner.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  42. Julie

    It hasn't affected me, I don't think. I LOVE the time change. I hate when it gets dark at 5:30 in the evening. I think they should leave it this way, though, all year long. I LOVE the longer hours in the day.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  43. Barry

    Living in Australia, I have never heard of this survey. Some countries have several time zones within there own borders, USA, Australia, Russia, Africa. Shift workers – nurses factory workers etc work around the clock. This survey is obviously from anti daylight saving people. As far as upsetting the diurnal rhythms, we in Australia see it more as upsetting the cows and fading the curtains. LOL

    March 26, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  44. PeginPA

    I consider the "spring forward" to be a positive influence in my life–more daylight, yay! It does initially effect my ability to wake up naturally, due to less light in the AM; so, that sometimes gives me extra sleep time! HOWEVER the "fall back" in October has a definite negative effect, suddenly plunging us into darkness. More psych disturbances are likely at that point.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  45. PeginPA

    Julie, you're joking, right? "They" couldn't leave it "this way" all the time, because it's all in accordance with the movement and position of the planets, and... oh, never mind.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  46. dynadave

    Personally, I tend to want to kill myself when daylight savings ends....

    March 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  47. c. rousseau

    I can't conclude that it causes death, however, I don't like the change . My internal clock still hasn't adjusted. I feel both adults and children stay up later as a result of the sunset being later . Less sleep means people can't concentrate, people are irritable, and their performance on the job or at school will suffer. I would prefer the time move back to the fall setting and just stay there.

    March 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  48. Ray

    Daylight Savings was created hundreds of years ago when the United States was an agrarian society, to provide more daylight hours for farmers. It is an anacronism that is no longer relevant and creates more hassles than benefits.

    I bet early European explorers who sailed around the world didn't suffer jet lag because, of course, they made the transition gradually and their bodies could adjust with no problem. It's when the body is asked to make a sudden, unnatural shift (like with jet travel or DST) that confusion and possibly health issues occur.

    I live in Japan, where there is one time zone and no DST, and we get along just fine, thank you very much.

    March 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Reply
  49. jredmond

    this is stupid.
    the daylight savings change is one measly hour. thats like changing time zones.
    are you telling me that it is deadly to travel from Alabama to Florida now?
    stop being sissies

    March 26, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  50. Pete

    That is one of the dummer things mankind ever came up with; let a politician decide when we go to sleep; especially since Bush moved the USA ahead 2 more weeks to really confuse everyone. Since I'm self employed I can ignore all this nonsense and wake up when my body is rested and sleep when I need to, which sometimes happens to be in the middle of the night, but who cares when you are at an optimum to contribute to society at that particular time. The more illogical rules a government imposes, the more unhappy its citizens will be.

    March 26, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  51. AOT

    It might be easier to help the 'weak' to cope if we understand how DST affects them. For example, If someone is taking psychiatric medications, how might the fluctuation of melatonin around the DST changeover interfere with the medications they are taking?

    Short winter days are not the only cause of SAD. It is also the amount of time spent indoors in the cold of winter, away from natural daylight. Likewise, a long string of cloudy days in the spring could prolong seasonal depression. A person I know has experienced a noticeable improvement with SAD symptoms since the DST spring changeover was switched from April to March. The late afternoons in March are now brighter longer and thus the outdoor temperature is higher later in the day. He can now get more outdoor walks on March afternoons than was possible before. Have others found this to be the case?

    March 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  52. Mick

    From what I have heard, congress decides each year if daylight savings time will go into effect. Personally, I see no use for it and it is a PITA to change my clocks and electronics 2x/year. Maybe those folks should vote "ney" next time the subject comes up. Instead, start a smoke detector battery changing day. Drum up a little business.

    March 27, 2010 at 12:34 am | Reply
  53. ann

    It might make people less alert, and therefore cause accidents
    like when driving or operating machinery.
    My teenager boy requires alot of sleep now, because he's still growing. What does that 1 hour less of sleep do to him?

    March 27, 2010 at 12:38 am | Reply
  54. Gary

    The concept of daylight savings time being a health risk is ludicrous.

    As another commentor mentioned it happens to coincide with tax season in some countries and I'm sure other sort of issues in other countries, so to say it can cause incresed suicides or deaths is unfounded.

    Daylight savings was initially started because of war efforts and the ability for factories to work later in the day without power assisted lighting. Not the reason it's still here, but I like the later sunlight hours. To me that is less stress and a good thing!

    March 27, 2010 at 12:42 am | Reply
  55. d

    i love it, i can see the sunrise, and enjoy a longer day to watch sunset
    do not like darkness..it could be true that you feel that your time clock has been disturbed, so i compensate by taking a 15 min nap at lunchtime and drinking an expresso coffee after lunch

    March 27, 2010 at 12:55 am | Reply
  56. d

    i love it, i can see the sunrise, and enjoy a longer day to watch sunset
    do not like darkness..it could be true that you feel that your time clock has been disturbed, so i compensate by taking a 15 min nap at lunchtime and drinking an expresso coffee after lunch
    miami beach, fla,

    March 27, 2010 at 12:58 am | Reply
  57. Sudhakar

    Absoluely not. In fact, it is one of the most effective ways to utilize natural daylight for productive use. We get more daylight in the evenings (during summer) for fun.

    I have been travelling between India and US (last 15 years) once every two months. There is 10 hours difference in EST and IST. This time difference has very little effect on my body. This effect lasts for about three days or so and body clock gets used to it. One of my friends travels to US for a 4 hour meeting and is back in India next day. He also has very little effect on his body.

    Millions of people travel to India, Middle East, China, Singapore, Japan from US with as much as 12 hours of time shift.

    Consider the following: We go out on Friday & Saturday nights for partying and stay up as late as 4am as a routine matter. How many people get killed becouse of this time shift on their sleep?

    March 27, 2010 at 1:12 am | Reply
  58. Joe Morelli

    Almost everyone I've spoken too agrees, the spring ahead is always harder. Why don't we dispense with all this and change the standard to day light savings (-4 Greenwich Time for the east coast).

    March 27, 2010 at 1:30 am | Reply
  59. ron

    what a bunch of crap - it's like saying your curtains fade more with DST and the hens don't lay as well, and the cows don't produce as much milk, none of which have any to do with "time zones"

    March 27, 2010 at 1:47 am | Reply
  60. ron

    what a bunch of crap - it's like saying your curtains fade more with DST and the hens don't lay as well, and the cows don't produce as much milk, none of which have anything to do with "time zones"

    March 27, 2010 at 1:51 am | Reply
  61. Haley

    I think day light savings time is a waste and just confuses people. I would prefer to get rid of it. I don't know about causing serious health problems but it is at least difficult for my body to get used to for a week or so every time it changes.

    March 27, 2010 at 1:56 am | Reply
  62. Cornelius

    LOL, Like we do not have enough things to deal with as it is.

    Its ludicrous ! "Oh my sister Annie was killed by daylight saving in 2009 you know. It was such a terrible thing for the family to get over. To think, if we just added one hour, she might still be alive today"

    March 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  63. Louise

    YES – daylight saving can kill. It hasn't been shown to "save" any energy, so why do we continue to torture ourselves? Everyone is affected – some more than others. If you say that changing your sleep pattern doesn't bother you, just wait until you see what it does to your longevity. Biorhythms exist for a reason – pay attention to them. Mankind has a way of disrupting nature in many ways – let's stop it!!

    March 29, 2010 at 7:48 am | Reply
  64. Don Woods

    I am all screwed-up because of the time change. And yes even my dog...!

    They should leave daylight saving time and not change it again. This is so stupid and as far as I am concerned isn't logic at all.

    March 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  65. Aminu suleiman (ASAD)

    No i dont think that day light saving kills..

    March 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  66. Joel

    I must be odd. I love summertime (but have some sort of half dread about it first...maybe its the thought of losing an hour of 'Sleepin-Sunday'....but then I love it. Then, at the end of summer, when the days start getting dark earlier, I look forward to the hours extra 'Sleepin Sunday' and relish the thought of being able to hide in my overcoat when I go out, Its a great security blanket for a neurotic like me!

    Also, I travel a lot and love the time change...

    March 31, 2010 at 12:59 am | Reply
  67. szz121

    I look forward to daylight savings time. I feel safer when I out at 6pm and it's not dark yet. Look at it like this, you loose an hour of sleep one night, not the rest of your life.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Reply
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