10 Ways Daylight Saving Time Is Good for Your Health
Losing an hour is tough, but there are real health benefits to Daylight Saving Time.
Daylight Saving Time, also known as that horrible night in the spring when we lose an hour of sleep, has been the subject of both praise and criticism since it was first proposed in 1895. While waking up slightly under-slept after that 2 a.m. clock jump is hardly most people's idea of a good time, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that Daylight Saving Time may be a good thing in the long run. The time change does a lot more than just make us miserable that one morning in March. In fact, there are plenty of science-backed health benefits of Daylight Saving Time. With that in mind, we've rounded up 10 reasons you'll want to embrace the time change this year.
You'll relieve those tired eyes.
Stressed eyes can take a much-needed break during Daylight Saving Time. Exposure to fluorescent light—the kind that's still prevalent in many older homes and offices—has been linked to increased rates of eye strain and disease by a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Thankfully, DST means you can shut off those bleak bulbs and rely on good old-fashioned sunlight instead.
You'll be safer on the road.
There's no question that driving when it's light out is easier. Luckily, the extra sunlight we enjoy during Daylight Saving Time might mean we're safer on the roads, too. According to a pivotal 2004 study in Accident Analysis & Prevention, if DST were adopted year round, the lives of 366 motorists and pedestrians would be saved every year.
You'll walk more.
Increased daylight doesn't just make driving easier and safer—it also makes people want to walk more, too. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that the extra daylight granted by the time change accounted for a 62 percent increase in pedestrians—not to mention a 38 percent increase in cyclists. That's good news for the environment, but it's also good news for us, given the many health benefits of walking.
You'll ditch those unwanted pounds.
Believe it or not, getting some extra sunlight during DST may also be the key to losing those last 10 pounds once and for all, and not just because of a higher step count. Research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2014 reveals that overweight women who increased their intake of vitamin D—a vitamin bioavailable through sunlight—to sufficient levels lost more weight than those who only dieted and exercised.
You'll get outside more.
Sunlight is great, and so is being outside in general. Those long sunny evenings we enjoy during Daylight Saving Time make it easier to find time to spend outdoors—and that may improve our mood. In fact, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reveals that pregnant women with access to green space suffered fewer incidents of depression than those without. So go have that evening picnic!
You'll enjoy the mood-boosting sunrise.
The later sunset is an obvious benefit of the time change, but so is a later sunrise! During Daylight Saving Time, you don't have to be a super early riser to catch the sunrise, which could have serious health benefits. One significant 2003 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that waking up in relation to the sunrise decreases a person's chance of depression. As far as the study's authors are concerned, we should be enjoying DST all year.
You'll feel your seasonal depression lifting.
On the whole, Daylight Saving Time might just give you a leg up when it comes to kicking those winter blues. A 2017 study published in Epidemiology reveals that incidents of depression increase by 11 percent when the clock shifts back in November, suggesting that springing forward may help reduce depressive episodes. That's because seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is likely caused by a "biochemical change in the brain, triggered by shorter days and reduced sunlight in the winter," according to Hisaho Blair at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For those suffering from seasonal depression specifically, that extra hour of sunlight can do a world of good.
You'll experience increased vitamin levels.
Still not convinced about the health benefits of Daylight Saving Time and all that extra sunlight? Try this one. A major 2008 study in Environmental Health Perspectives argued that there are countless benefits to UV ray exposure that we dismiss because of the harm caused by excessive exposure. That's not suggesting you skip the sunscreen, but it is saying that there are very real reasons to appreciate the sun—particularly its role in the production of vitamin D, which promotes healthy bones, reduces blood pressure, and generally keeps you healthier overall.
You'll sleep better.
The disruption caused by Daylight Saving Time can be a shock to your system, but it may benefit your sleep in the long run. As the 2008 Environmental Health Perspectives study notes, increased exposure to sunlight can boost your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. When you've got more sunlight in the day, you may find it easier to hit the hay at a reasonable hour.
You'll drink less.
The long, cold days of winter can make anyone look forward to a Hot Toddy or glass of wine when they come home. Fortunately, research by BACTrack in 2014 suggests that people tend to drink more from December through March than at any other time of year. Whether that's because it's warming up or because increased daylight is naturally boosting your mood, you might find you have an easier time skipping that glass of chardonnay. And given all the benefits of drinking less, that's good news.