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Daylight saving time: It could cause you to have a heart attack, car accident

Car accidents are more likely for up to three days following Daylight saving time.
Car accidents are more likely for up to three days following Daylight saving time.
Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, March 8, 2014 began Daylight saving time, robbing you of an hour of extra sleep as the clock struck midnight. And that sleep deprivation could cause some people to experience a heart attack or a car accident according to Dr. Alan Avidon, who serves as the director of the UCLA Sleep Disorder Center. The LA Times reported on March 8 that Dr. Avidon says "significant sleepiness can have health consequences."

Dr. Avidon is not alone in his belief that human health is impacted by setting the clock an hour ahead in the spring. He is joined by neuroscientist Erik Herzog of Washington University, who says that "an increase in the number of heart attacks" is experienced as much as two days following Daylight saving time.

Every year when we spring forward, we have a significant increase in the number of traffic accidents (too)," Herzog said.

Herzog says we now have more heart attacks and more traffic accidents and it is all because we continue a practice that is no longer the energy efficient effort it used to be. According to a 2007 government study, we no longer save energy as much as we used to by observing this Energy Policy Act. In fact, we only save 0.03 percent now compared to years past.

But there is one good reason to continue to observe the DST tradition, and that is due to the reduction in crime it influences. Robbery crimes are committed in lesser numbers when homes are illuminated for longer periods of time at night thanks to DST. So while you may be more at risk for a heart attack or a car accident two to three days following this time change in the Spring, you may be less at risk for a robbery following DST thanks to the greater length of illumination time each day.