Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2:00 am this Sunday. In theory, “falling back” means an extra hour of sleep this weekend.
Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”
That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days.
Research teams around the world have tried to determine if losing or gaining an hour of sleep because of Daylight Saving Time make a difference in health. Michigan researchers, writing in the American Journal of Cardiology, showed a small increase in heart attacks on the first day (Sunday) of the spring transition to Daylight Saving Time, when we “lose” an hour of sleep. This echoed a Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing a small increase in heart attacks after the start of Daylight Saving Time and a small decrease at its end.
Other researchers have looked at driving accidents, workplace safety, and even school performance, with mixed results.