Time change More accidents and sleep disorders
More accidents and sleep disturbances due to time change
Tonight the time has come: the clock will be presented at 2:00 am for one hour at 3:00. With the time change the daylight saving time starts. Since the migration of winter and summer time was introduced in 1980, the time lag is criticized from all sides again and again. Advocates argue that the introduction has saved energy in the past, because less electricity was needed due to the longer daylight. Critics complain that the time change significant health problems for a variety of people arise because the biorhythm is sensitive disturbed. Automobile clubs say the timed adjustment has a measurable increased accident risk. During the acclimatization phase, many people suffer from difficulty concentrating, irritability and dizziness. The symptoms are usually triggered in patients who already suffer from sleep disorders.
Change of summer and winter time for 31 years
For 31 years, the clocks in Germany are each switched to the summer and winter time. Since the introduction, experts of various disciplines disagree about the meaning and nonsense of this measure. For the shift, a high effort must be operated, but in the opinion of individual researchers hardly any benefit. At the Deutsche Bundesbahn alone, a total of 120,000 watches have to be converted. In order for this to happen smoothly, a pulse is sent by the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig, which at the same time adjusts all radio clocks in private households to the summer time.
Saving energy through time change?
Advocates argue that the two-fold time change per year provides energy savings, as industry and the public are forced to turn on artificially generated light later in the daylight, allowing natural daylight to be fully exploited. In addition, favor „artificial light“ numerous disease risks, which are thereby minimized. During a study, scientists from the University of Ohio found that artificial light sources increase the risk of obesity by 50 percent. By being overweight again cardiovascular diseases are favored. But these arguments are sufficient to continue the time change?
Opponents of the time change say that the shift of time brings no or only a very low energy-saving effect. The criticism is backed up by a French and Bulgarian study from 2004 and 2005. In both studies, which were carried out independently of each other, there was only a very small saving effect. Just 0.01 (Bulgaria) and 0.014 (France) respectively reduced energy consumption. According to the results of the study, the Federal Ministry for the Environment also announced that the time change will not save any energy. „Although people switch off the lights earlier in the evening, they heat up even more in the winter months. Therefore, both cancel each other out.“ Environmentalists even go one step further: „Due to the subjectively longer daylight, people are also traveling longer by car in the evening.“ As a result, summer time consumes even more energy, argues the argument.
Sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed
But how does the artificially induced change of time affect the human organism? Most people notice that they wake up an hour earlier than usual in the following days and weeks, from the beginning of summer time onwards. In some, this wake-up effect disappears after a few days, while others who are already suffering from sleep often experience the change as the only agony. The longer daylight makes it harder to fall asleep in the evening and in the morning many wake up earlier. The result: Chronic fatigue, irritability and some discomfort 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 opposite the „Hamburger Abendblatt“ as follows: "Our internal clock actually wants us to wake up later and go to bed later, but when it comes to summer time, the opposite is true." The deep sleep, which takes place in the first hours of bedtime, is not affected by the time change. With the following light sleep as well as dream sleep the thing looks completely different. Due to the missing hour, the pulse and blood pressure in the morning is still low, because the internal clock in the brain still emits sleep hormones. So-called wake-up hormones are not or only barely active at least in the first acclimation phase. Getting up is therefore much harder, many people feel bad sleep.
Mini jetlag as a result
But because most people can not just sleep an hour longer due to work or family responsibilities on Monday, many experience one „Mini jet lag“. This can last for several weeks, says the sleep researcher. According to a survey of the health insurance DAK every fourth German citizen has problems to get used to the new time. About 21 percent of respondents said they suffered from constant fatigue during the day. „After 10 to 14 days, humans usually get used to the new rhythm and the usual general condition returns.“ says the naturopath Andre Tonak.
Preparing for summer time diminishes symptoms
The sleep researcher Zulley recommends preparing in good time for the change of time. For example, it would make sense to get up half an hour earlier on Sunday after the changeover. Lunch on Saturday and Sunday should be brought forward by about half an hour. This gives the biorhythm the opportunity to adapt to the changed sleep-wake cycle.
Increased risk of accidents on Monday
According to the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, the risk of accidents in the first days after the changeover to summer time is particularly high. An evaluation of the accident statistics had recently revealed that up to 29 percent more accidents happen than in March compared to the previous month. However, a connection is not clearly proven. Critics claim that increased accidents could also be related to the fact that in summer simply more cars and motorcycles are on the way. The influence of the animals could also play a role. Because animals are not based on the timing of man, but on the sun. As a result, there may be an increase in collision accidents because the traffic is delayed for the animals. Automobile clubs therefore recommend, as a precaution, the clock in the car already on Saturday back by one hour, so you have already got used to the new era on Monday. In addition, one should be prepared for increased attention and, if possible, first switch to public transport.
Why is the law of time not changed??
If the time change actually brings only disadvantages and almost no benefits, why is not the law of time simply abolished? Politics justifies this with the internal market in the EU. Because there, the clocks are jointly changed by all countries. A solo attempt would not be possible from an economic point of view. Therefore, it is still stuck in the winter and summer time. Only if all EU states decided to reintroduce the old law of time, one would be prepared to rethink. There is no initiative in the European Parliament, however, so that citizens must continue to adjust to the inconvenience of changing the clock. (Sb)
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Image: Simone Hainz