It’s that time of year again, as we set our clocks back an hour, we “fall back”, essentially gaining back 60 minutes. Though many people are less aware of Daylight Savings Time due to the fact that most of our technology adjusts automatically now, the effects can still be noticed. I decided to write this blog as I became intrigued about how this time shift impacts us. How does this affect our lives? Do these changes differ from daylight savings in the spring?
How did you feel?
Looking back two weeks ago, did you feel more awake when you woke up? The first thought that pops into my head when it comes to Daylight Savings is sleep…I think we all can agree on this. I know that I am either going to have an extra hour in the Fall or lose one in the Spring—pretty simple concept to grasp. As a result of this I’m either going to feel refreshed OR more tired than usual the next day depending on which Daylight Savings Time is occurring. In the JSTOR article, “Losing Sleep at the Market: The Daylight Saving Anomaly”, the effect of Daylight Savings is compared to that of jet lag, pointing out that a change in our circadian rhythm (a process our body goes through over the course of 24 hours) can lead to either feeling ahead or behind. Thus, backing up, while also making logical sense of my thought process on this event.
Looking more into this topic, I came across a study that was done with 48 people, where their wake up times were observed the week after daylight savings as well as the week before (controlled trial). It was found that wake up times were effected and took about a week to adjust after both the Spring and Fall time shifts. It is noted that more people relied on a force wakeup by an alarm clock in the Spring due to the less sleep, meaning that it was found to be more difficult to wake up on their own. This showed me that the effects of Daylight Savings can differ between Fall and Spring even though both instances seem to impact us.
While researching on this topic, I came across a study done about how Daylight Savings could cause more car accidents to happen. WHAT? Never would I have guessed that this would be an outcome of switching the hours on my clock. When I saw this I was pretty skeptical at first being that Andrew taught us that correlation does NOT equal causation. I figured it could probably just be a coincidence that more people were getting into accidents around this time frame.
This study was done over the course of 21 years by observing the amount of fatal car accidents on the day before, of, and after, during the weeks of and after Daylight Savings time. Basically researchers tried to see if there was any change in the amount of crashes that took place after daylight savings in comparison to the amount on a normal basis. It turns out that there did seem to be an increase. Furthermore, it was found that there was a more significant increase in crashes in the Fall than in the Spring. The main reasoning for this is the gaining of an extra hour, causing people to stay out later than normal resulting in being drowsier, less attentive at the wheel, the next day. Though this is an issue that not many people know about or even realize, it does not necessarily mean that it suffers from the “File Drawer Problem”. As we learned in class, this problem happens when results fail to become well known or published because the results do not show a change, in other words we fail to reject the null hypothesis. So if the null hypothesis is that there is no increase of accidents during the daylight savings period, then in this case we would reject the null hypothesis.
It’s interesting to see that the act of putting our clocks ahead an hour or back an hour can produce changes in not only our state of alertness but also that this can carry into events of our everyday lives, like even driving a car.
A side note: with that being said, try to avoid the roads on the day after Daylight Savings (more so in the Fall!!) Taking this precaution could save yourself from just one of the effects caused by Daylight Savings!!
Sources: (all found on Google Scholar)