zac- Nov 1If you’re like me, you loved getting one extra bonus hour of sleep last night. My wife told me a few days ago that daylight savings time was happening this last weekend, and it felt like getting a Christmas present. Woohoo! Extra Sleep! Yes! Treat Yourself!

The idea of a free bonus hour of sleep is supremely awesome. On the flip side, I’m certainly not a fan of losing an hour in spring (although I did love it when I worked graveyard shift). But really though, why do we need to move our clocks back in the fall and forward in the spring?

Here are a few interesting facts on the DST timeline:

1784 – The idea of daylight saving is first conceived by Benjamin Franklin.

March 19, 1918 – The Standard Time Act establishes time zones and daylight savings. Daylight savings is repealed in 1919, but continues to be recognized in certain areas of the United States.

1966 – The Uniform Time Act of 1966 establishes the system of uniform Daylight Saving Time throughout the United States. The dates are the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. States can exempt themselves from participation.

August 8, 2005 – President George W. Bush signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law. Part of the act will extend Daylight Saving Time starting in 2007, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

I don’t really know much else about the history of Daylight Saving Time (DST), but I wonder if it can have any type of impact on our health. One would think the advantages of DST must outweigh the disadvantages, but the research out there seems to tell a rather neutral story.

On Friday, I read an article on CNN.com that reported DST is not about farmers and it doesn’t save much money, but springing forward and falling back can make notable impacts on our health.

A 2012 British study found kids got more exercise during the longer summer days, while researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham reported in 2012 that the spring adjustment led to a 10% increase in heart attack risk. On the other hand, that same study found the risk fell about as much in the fall, when clocks were turned back.

The CNN article also suggests that the clock changes can also raise the risk of accidents by sleep-deprived motorists. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1996 reporting an 8% increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the spring shift, but the extra sleep makes streets about 8% safer on the day after the fall change, according to that study.

The benefits and risks seem to weigh in about the same as far as percentages go, but ultimately, we can conclude that you are healthier and safer when you are not sleep-deprived. The lesson learned is this….

Do yourself a solid and treat yourself (in my Aziz Ansari voice) to some bonus sleep