If you're feeling sleepy right about now, Outliers knows why.
We've all just gone through the biannual ritual of moving our clocks by an hour. After "springing forward" early March 8 (also known as losing an hour of sleep), the conventional wisdom is we enjoy the benefits of more daylight in the evening, boosting the economy by encouraging people to shop longer during daylight hours and keeping us healthier with the chance to engage in outside activities later in the day.
But there are widespread fears it's not healthy. The twice-yearly clock changes can pose health dangers for those with neurological disorders. One Nebraska teen with epilepsy even tracked an increase in his seizures to the time change, as it messed with his circadian rhythms. He's petitioning the Nebraska Legislature to stop using daylight saving time, according to KHGI-TV.
The biannual time shifts have also been linked to increased stress levels, higher blood pressure, risk of heart attacks, depression, and internal clock disruption, according to the Associated Press.
Many scientists and sleep researchers advocate for year-round standard time so that people can stay coordinated with their internal biological clock. Hawaii and Arizona are the only two states, along with some U.S. territories that follow standard time year-round, according to National Geographic.
Beth A. Malow, a professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told Medical News Today that the transition to DST affects brain functions like alertness and energy levels. Malow and others wrote about the effects of DST in JAMA Neurology.
"People think the 1 hour-transition is no big deal, that they can get over this in a day, but what they don't realize is their biological clock is out of sync," Marlow told Medical News Today.
Do you even need to ask if there are naysayers?
"There's a big difference between the effects of the one-hour change from standard time to daylight saving time—those effects take place over a day, maybe up to three days—versus daylight saving time itself, which lasts eight months," David Prerau, author of Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time, told Popular Mechanics.
The Popular Mechanics article argues the health risks of DST are exaggerated, noting that while heart attacks may rise 10% after the spring time change, they drop 10% after falling back, and generally tend to occur more in winter and early spring.
A National Institutes of Health look at the benefits of soaking up more sun means more Vitamin D, more time for exercising and socializing outside and generally better mental health.
The Popular Mechanics article also shoots down the notion of DST contributing to more traffic accidents overall, citing research published in Accident Analysis & Prevention. While accidents may spike after springing forward, it noted the study concluded 366 fewer lives would be lost annually to traffic accidents if DST were adopted year-round.
So Outliers doesn't have any definitive answers. Just don't lose sleep worrying about it.