By Andreas Moritz
Hi, this is a very good question about daylight savings time and the question is “Does daylight savings time affect our health and wellbeing?”
And in fact, it does. There are studies to show that there is a higher incidence of depression and cardiovascular episodes such as heart attack during the time of changing into daylight savings or going back to standard time.
This practice of changing time has been practiced basically for a hundred years on this recently developed world and mostly in North American, and some South American countries, as well as most European countries. Now the problem with time change is that for one thing we don’t really to save much energy. It has been estimated that on average a household saves about four dollars in one year simply because of making these time adjustments.
The problem, however, is that productivity drops dramatically during and around the times of the changes, which amounts to a loss of 400 million US dollars per year. So it doesn’t really make sense form the energy point of view, we don’t save much energy costs and we lose a lot of productivity due to fatigue that arises during this time.
The other problem is that because of the hormones in our system, in our body, are closely interconnected with the circadian rhythm. That means the movement of the earth around the sun and these rhythms have very powerful influences on most essential, most effective and powerful hormones in our body, such as serotonin which is light-sensitive and melatonin which is dark-sensitive.
When we experience a shortage of light because of time changes or we have too much light and we are not experiencing enough darkness, then either way this can cause major physiological changes which can have damaging effects on our body, for example, if a normal, during the standard time, the winter period when the melatonin secretion which is a hormone produced in the pineal gland is secreted at 9:30 in the evening which is typical, then if you have let’s say, a different time introduced into your schedule such as suddenly the time during the adjusted time period is now 10:30 for the melatonin cycle to begin, then that can interfere with your sleeping habits, you may not get good quality sleep because you are going to bed an hour later than you are supposed to go to sleep in order to maximize the full secretion of melatonin.
Melatonin is a very powerful hormone that regulates the thyroid, and through the thyroid, all the other endocrine glands and hormones. So when you start interfering with the thyroid hormone and the other hormones in the body, a lot of undesirable changes can happen in the body.
This can effectively also lead in the long term to serotonin deficiency which goes along with happiness, and when you become deficient in serotonin, the end result is that you are depressed or you become sad, or you become just unhappy in some ways that leads to other problems, making mistakes, and not having the enthusiasm and the joy, not digesting food properly. We know that serotonin regulates most of the digestive functions because it’s well known that most serotonin is actually produced in the digestive system to regulate the digestive secretions and if your melatonin drops below normal because you are going to bed an hour later than you are supposed to go to bed, then the next day you don’t secrete enough serotonin to digest your food well, and so this can cause a number of issues, not just with regard to digestive functions but because of a lot of undigested food curing in the digestive tract. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, your energy levels may drop, and your brain may not get enough nutrients or glucose as a result.
These are subtle changes that sort of… if it happens every year, year after year, that you may have a chronic illness or issue that can… that otherwise never would have happened if you don’t have to follow these time changes.
Now we are not complete victims in all of that. We can make changes and there are a number of them that can get you through these time changes or shifts, these are natural shifts in a sort of more relaxed manner, and one of them is that it has been know that light therapy… looking at certain kinds of lights or lamps that emit light effectively… that they can, in fact, reduce the adjustment period, the length of having to adjust to the new cycles, for example this is a light that can do that and you can find these on amazon.com. They are pretty useful also for people who have jet lag that have traveled a long way and they, like… to another country and then they come back and they are jet-lagged and this reduces the length of time you are experiencing the jet lag, so light therapy is definitely very good. SAD, which is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is more prevalent in countries that don’t have enough sun exposure, it’s a very, very useful tool to keep the balance.
Then another thing that has been found to be beneficial is during the times of time changes to socialize with other people, spend time with your friends, with children playing, this has also shown benefit, and to benefit the serotonin production which is the happiness hormone, so anything that makes you happy also allows you to adjust better.
Another good way to get over this period more easily and effectively is exercising. So, it’s important to do that anyway, but during this time even more so, and this will help to once again make create balance to the serotonin – melatonin hormonal changes.
And also a person who has a full body massage that has been shown simply by activating certain receptors on the surface of the skin that are related to serotonin production, that will also benefit greatly when you go through that.
Another way is when you, when there is a shortage of time, and let’s say, when you enter the summer period and the daylight savings time, and you have an hour’s less sleep, that’s the time to somehow, for at least like a week, still try to get your eight hours of sleep instead of the seven hours that you may have given yourself simply by once again going to bed a little earlier and maybe sleeping a little longer, so that you do get your eight hours of sleep, and that has also been shown to be of great benefit.
So having said that, I think that there are certain things that we can do, sometimes we can also exert pressure on the governance and some have listened, some have discovered that it’s actually a great loss to go through these changes, some states in United States like Arizona and Hawaii, they don’t have daylight savings time, and they are little smarter than the rest of us, and there are some countries that also resist doing that. It has particularly with the modern communication systems being so fast and the countries being so interconnected, it has created a big, big problem and lots of expenditures simply by constantly having to adjust the different devices, computers, twice a year, which is a great problem now with inter-country communications. Some countries, they start daylight savings time early, and some start it later and this is a real nuisance for many countries.
So letting your government, your representatives know that there is now a great deal of evidence, you can do a Google search you will find a lot of evidence to show that daylight savings time is not really saving us very much, except perhaps being in the daylight a little longer during the summer period, but apart from that, there is really no other benefit from following such a time schedule.
Thanks for listening and have a wonderful beautifully sun-filled day.