“Daylight saving time increases accidents, injuries and suicides”
Studies show increases in car accidents, workplace injuries, suicides and even some miscarriageFehlgeburtmiscarriages following daylight saving (time)Sommerzeitdaylight saving clock changes. Depression also increases. This is often referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)jahreszeitlich bedingte Depressionseasonal affective disorder (SAD), where people feel low because of the sudden reduction of light. We commonly see spikeSpitze; hier: Anstiegspikes in sleep disorderSchlafstörungsleep disorder referral(ärztliche) Überweisungreferrals after the clock changes, with increased inquiries and consultations in the two months after. Sometimes, it can be manifested in other ways as well, according to other clinics — for example in a rise in mentalpsychischmental‑health referrals. Research from Scandinavian countries has also shown an increase in cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, strokeSchlaganfallstrokes and so on, following clock changes.
Daylight saving was introduced at a time when there was not a very comprehensiveumfassendcomprehensive understanding of the relationship between sleep and health. The evidence suggests that we have completely underestimated how significant the problem can be, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditionErkrankungmedical conditions. Even for the healthy population, there are risks. A study by Washington State University shows that changing to daylight saving time increases workplace injuries, and this can be caused by the reduction in sleep and the consequence of sleepiness. Reduced reaction times and the reduced concentration levels also to tie in with sth.sich mit etw. deckentie in with the increase in car accidents. Some people can recover within a couple of weeks, but for some, it can take a couple of months.
Whether we change to a permanent GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)WEZ (Westeuropäische Zeit)GMT+1 or just GMT is not important, as long as we have a single time throughout the year, as the EU proposes. We’ve got to remember that we’re essentially builthier: veranlagtbuilt like cavemanHöhlenmenschcavemen, who slept when the sun went down, and woke up when the sun came up. It was a gradual change through the seasons, and our bodies to adjustsich umstellenadjusted naturally. Now, with the adventAnkunft; hier: Einführungadvent of artificial light and introducing these sudden time changes, problems arise.
If we do stick to one time, GMT+1 would be better because the extra bit of light that we’re going to experience is going to be so beneficial, particularly in sports and activities. It might not suit the far north of the country, of course. But to have a separate northern Scottish time zone wouldn’t be practical economically. We just have to make the best adjustment that we can.
Joseph Gannon is chief sleep physiologist at The Sleep Disorders Clinic, London
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