• Is Daylight Saving Bad for Your Health?

Is Daylight Saving Bad for Your Health?

Dec 04 2019 Read 1182 Times

Since daylight savings (DST) was first introduced in the United States during WWI, the concept has been steeped in controversy. Its harshest critics warn that while turning back or moving forward the clock does unlock more daylight during waking hours, daylight savings could also be having a negative impact on public health.

Benjamin Franklin was an early pioneer of daylight savings, spearheading the concept in a satirical essay published in the Journal de Paris in 1784. He jested that it could be an effective way to save candle wax, an idea that was later introduced in Europe and the United States during WWI. Today, DTS advocates claim the time adjustment reduces energy consumption, boosts daily productivity and even increases physical activity in the summer months thanks to more daylight.  

Daylight savings disrupts the suprachiasmatic nucleus

While there are tangible benefits to DST, not all experts agree. Critics warn that daylight savings disrupts the body's natural 24-hour cycle and disturbs a "master" system known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It's located in the hypothalamus region of the brain and keeps the body's physiological timing in check. It also regulates multiple processes, including liver function, hormone production and immune system defence. Disruption to the SCN is associated with serious human diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's.

Adjustment in light exposure is one of the major concerns associated with DST. During daylight hours, light infiltrates the retina and activates specialised cells. These cells then relay signals to the SCN and prompt it to communicate to the rest of the body. If these light messages are disrupted, it can have a negative impact on physiological function.

Mood disorders, cardiovascular risks and cancer associated with DST

Experts compare adjusting to DST as a similar process to recovering from jetlag. Crossing time zones in an airplane can leave the body out of sync, which can affect energy levels, sleep patterns and the body's ability to process energy from food. In a retrospective study published in the journal Biological Rhythm Research, a team of scientists found that DST had a particularly negative impact on adolescents, with the time change influencing mood, sleep and social behaviour. Other studies warn that disrupting the biological clocks is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and endocrine disorders. Some even suggest east-west positioning in certain time zones can influence cancer diagnosis.

DST isn't the only issue causing concerns over public health, with electronic cigarettes also in the spotlight. For an introduction to the latest SCION technologies being used to break down the content of commercially available e-liquids, don't miss 'Analysis of Electronic Cigarette E-Liquids by GC-MS'.

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