Can Daylight Saving Time Impact Your Health?

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The transition to daylight savings time is associated with numerous negative health effects such as sleep deprivation, a higher risk of car accidents and other injuries and increased hospitalizations for major health conditions. As a result, it can be beneficial to take steps in advance to prepare for the time change including making sure you have a sufficient health insurance plan.

Continue reading for more information on the effects of daylight savings time on your body and how you can protect yourself from health risks after moving your clocks forward this year.

Key Takeaways

  • The time change and differing daylight hours can disrupt your circadian rhythms during daylight saving time, potentially leading to poor sleep and increasing the risk of associated health problems like high blood pressure and substance abuse.
  • Deadly car crashes are more common during the days right after daylight saving time begins.
  • Other health issues like heart attacks, strokes, general injuries and suicide become more common following the start of daylight saving time as well.
  • To protect yourself as daylight saving time starts, you should progressively adjust your sleep schedule, spend time exercising outdoors and make sure you have an appropriate health insurance plan.

When Is Daylight Savings Time?

Every year, daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.[1] This year, it will last from March 10, 2024, to November 3, 2024.

Daylight saving time lasts for 238 days each year, meaning it accounts for a little more than 65% of the year.[1] Notably, this also means that there is an extra day of standard time this year since 2024 is a leap year.

How Does Daylight Savings Work?

Clocks spring forward when daylight saving time begins in the spring, which means you lose an hour of sleep. Then, at the end of daylight saving time in the fall, clocks fall backward and you gain an extra hour of sleep.

The main effect that changing clocks has throughout the year is that it will be bright outside for a greater portion of the day during which most people are awake.

However, the trade-off for these later sunsets leading to brighter evening hours is later sunrises leading to darker mornings.

How Can Daylight Savings Time Impact Your Health?

See below for an overview of some of the biggest ways your health could be negatively impacted and your health care costs could increase shortly after the beginning of daylight saving time.


The most obvious potential impact of the time change is sleep deprivation and the disruption of your normal circadian rhythm. Not only do you risk losing sleep if you don’t go to bed an hour earlier on March 9 but your circadian rhythm could also be thrown off throughout daylight saving time since there will be less light in the morning and more light closer to nighttime, which means your body may naturally be tired at the wrong times and stimulated at the wrong times.

Sleep deprivation can contribute to a wide array of chronic health problems including kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and more. It can also make it harder for you to focus and cause you to have a worse mood.[2] In addition, circadian disruption can lead to an increased risk of substance abuse, potentially causing even more health problems or exacerbating existing conditions.[3]

Car Accidents

Fatal car accident risk increases by 6% in the days immediately following the shift to daylight saving time in the spring. This can be attributed to darker early morning commutes and drowsiness caused by circadian misalignment, which can lead to slower reaction times, poor decision-making on the road and other factors that make driving more difficult.[4]

Other Adverse Health Consequences

The biannual time changes have been associated with an increased incidence of numerous other physical and mental health problems. For example, studies have found an increase in daylight savings heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, immune disorders, general injuries, atrial fibrillation in women and strokes around the time transitions.[3][5][6] In addition, the time shift is associated with an increase in behavioral disorders and even male suicide rates.[3][7]

How Can I Prepare for Daylight Savings Time?

The below sections discuss a few of the lifestyle changes you can implement to potentially mitigate the negative health impacts of daylight saving time.

Establish a Sleeping Routine

It’s recommended that you get at least seven hours of sleep each night in the days surrounding the transition to daylight savings time. To assist in this, you may want to gradually adjust your sleep schedule starting two to three days before you change your clocks.[8] For example, if you fall asleep and wake up 15 to 20 minutes earlier than the previous day for a few days in a row leading up to March 10, then the one-hour time loss may not require such a harsh adjustment.

Get Exercise in the Mornings

You should also consider going for a morning jog once the sun is up or otherwise exercising and exposing yourself to sunlight as much as possible to help your internal clock adjust to a different circadian cycle. Both exercise and exposure to bright light have a circadian phase-shifting effect, meaning they can help you adapt to a new sleep schedule.[9]

Make Sure You Have the Right Health Insurance

Finally, it’s crucial to make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage in case your other planned lifestyle changes don’t pan out. For example, even if you try to adjust your sleep schedule progressively, you could still happen to sleep poorly the night before the time change. 

In this case, you want to make sure your health plan will cover medications or treatments from a sleep medicine specialist in case you experience major health issues during daylight saving time.

Remember that all Marketplace health plans are required to cover in-network preventive services for free, meaning you won’t have to pay a copay or coinsurance regardless of whether you’ve reached your yearly deductible. This can include free blood pressure, depression and alcohol misuse screenings, which may be especially helpful after a major shift in your sleep pattern.[10]


Is daylight savings an hour forward or back?

The clock moves an hour ahead when daylight saving time begins in the spring and an hour behind when daylight saving time ends in the fall.

Why is daylight savings a thing?

Daylight saving time results in more daylight hours during a typical day, which can potentially allow people to save energy by taking advantage of the increase in natural daylight.

Where isn’t DST practiced?

Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time.[11]

Can daylight savings affect your health?

Daylight saving time is associated with an increase in numerous health issues including sleep deprivation, heart disease and depression.


  1. National Institute of Standards and Technology. “Daylight Saving Time Rules.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  3. PLOS Computational Biology. “Measurable Health Effects Associated With the Daylight Saving Time Shift.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  4. Current Biology. “A Chronobiological Evaluation of the Acute Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Traffic Accident Risk.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  5. Sleep Medicine. “Changes in Atrial Fibrillation Admissions Following Daylight Saving Time Transitions.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  6. Sleep Medicine. “Changes in Ischemic Stroke Occurrence Following Daylight Saving Time Transitions.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  7. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. “Small Shifts in Diurnal Rhythms Are Associated With an Increase in Suicide: The Effect of Daylight Saving.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  8. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Daylight Saving Time Health Advisory.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  9. Journal of Circadian Rhythms. “Circadian Phase-Shifting Effects of Bright Light, Exercise, and Bright Light + Exercise.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  10. “Preventive Care Benefits for Adults.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.
  11. U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department. “Daylight Saving Time.” Accessed Feb. 29, 2024.

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