Time change: more accidents and sleep disorders


More accidents and sleep disorders through time changes

Tonight the time has come: The clock is set at 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Daylight saving time begins with the time change. Since the changeover from winter to summer time was introduced in 1980, the time difference has been criticized from all sides. Proponents argue that the introduction could save energy in the past because less daylight required less electricity to be used. Critics complain that the change in time causes considerable health problems for a large number of people because the biorhythm is disturbed. Automobile clubs say that the time can be adjusted to measure a measurable increased risk of accidents. Many people suffer from difficulty concentrating, irritability and dizziness during the settling-in phase. The symptoms are mostly triggered in patients who already suffer from sleep disorders anyway.

Changeover from summer to winter time for 31 years
For 31 years, clocks in Germany have been switched to summer and winter time. Since its introduction, experts from various disciplines have been arguing about the meaning and nonsense of this measure. A great deal of effort has to be spent on the shift, but in the opinion of individual researchers it is of little use. A total of 120,000 clocks have to be converted at the Deutsche Bundesbahn alone. To ensure that this happens smoothly, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig sends an impulse that simultaneously sets all radio clocks in private households to the summer time.

Saving energy by changing the time?
Supporters argue that changing the time twice a year saves energy because industry and the population have to switch on the artificial light due to the longer daylight, which means that natural daylight can be fully used. In addition, “artificial light” favors numerous disease risks, which are minimized as a result. During a study, scientists from the University of Ohio found that artificial light sources increased the risk of being overweight by 50 percent. Overweight in turn increases cardiovascular diseases. But are these arguments sufficient to continue changing the time?

Opponents of the time change say that the shift in time has no or only a very slight energy-saving effect. The criticism is underpinned by a French and Bulgarian study from 2004 and 2005. In both studies, which were carried out independently of one another, there was only a very small saving effect. Energy consumption was reduced by just 0.01 (Bulgaria) and 0.014 (France). According to the results of the study, the Federal Ministry for the Environment also announced that no energy can be saved by changing the time. “Although people turn off the lights earlier in the evening, they heat up all the longer in the winter months. That is why the two cancel each other out. ”Environmentalists even go one step further:“ The subjectively longer daylight means that people spend more time driving in the evening. ”As a result, even more energy is used in the summer, the argument goes.

Sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed
But how does the artificially induced time change affect the human organism? Most people notice that they wake up one hour earlier than usual from the beginning of summer time in the following days and weeks. For some, this wake-up effect disappears after a few days, others, who already suffer from sleep disorders, often experience the change the only agony. The longer daylight makes it harder to fall asleep in the evening and many people wake up earlier in the morning. The result: chronic tiredness, irritability and in some cases complaints of the gastrointestinal tract such as abdominal pain or diarrhea. The sleep researcher and professor at the University of Regensburg, Peter Zulley, explains the cause to the "Hamburger Abendblatt" as follows: "Our internal clock actually wants us to get up later and go to bed later. But when we switch to summer time, that's it Quite the opposite. " The deep sleep that takes place in the first hours of bedtime is not affected by the time change. In the subsequent light sleep and dream sleep, things look very different. Due to the lack of an hour, the pulse and blood pressure in the morning are still low, because the internal clock in the brain continues to release sleep hormones. So-called wake-up hormones are not or only barely active at least in the first settling-in phase. Getting up is therefore much more difficult, many people feel that they have not slept well.

Mini jet lag as a result
Since most people cannot simply sleep an hour longer on Monday due to professional or family commitments, many experience a “mini jetlag”. This can take several weeks, says the sleep researcher. According to a survey by the health insurance company DAK, every fourth German citizen has problems getting used to the new era. About 21 percent of those surveyed said they suffer from daytime fatigue. "After 10 to 14 days, people usually get used to the new rhythm and the usual general feeling returns," says the naturopath Andre Tonak.

Preparing for summer time reduces symptoms
The sleep researcher Zulley recommends preparing for the change in time in good time. For example, it would make sense to get up half an hour earlier on Sunday after the time change. Lunch on Saturday and Sunday should be brought forward by about half an hour. This gives the biorhythm the opportunity to adjust to the changed sleep-wake rhythm.

There is an increased risk of accidents on Monday
According to the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, the risk of accidents is particularly high in the first few days after switching to summer time. An analysis of the accident statistics recently showed that up to 29 percent more accidents occur than in March compared to the previous month. However, a connection has not been clearly proven. Critics claim that increased accidents could also be related to the fact that there are simply more cars and motorbikes in the summer. The influence of the animals could also play a role. Because animals do not orient themselves according to the time division of humans, but on the position of the sun. This may lead to increased accidents due to collisions because the traffic for the animals is delayed. As a precautionary measure, automobile clubs recommend that the clock in the car be reset by one hour on Saturday so that you can get used to the new calendar on Monday. You should also be prepared for increased attention and, if possible, switch to public transport first.

Why isn't the time law changed?
If the time change actually has only disadvantages and almost no advantages, why isn't the time law simply abolished? Politicians justify this with the internal market in the EU. Because there the clocks are changed jointly by all countries. Going it alone would not be possible from an economic point of view. Therefore, keep on with the winter and summer time. Only if all EU countries decided to reintroduce the old time law would one be ready to rethink. However, there is no initiative in the EU Parliament, so that citizens still have to adjust to the inconvenience of the time change. (sb)

Also read:
Constant light creates obesity
Changing the time can provoke sleep disorders
Biorhythm suffers from time change
Time change favors winter depression
Increased accident risk due to time change
Every third woman suffers from the time change

Image: Simone Hainz / pixelio.de

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