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Setting Clocks Ahead Affects Early Birds Less Than Night Owls


Many countries observe Daylight Saving Time, a twice a year tradition in which states or provinces change their clocks. DST usually starts during March when people have to spring forward or set their clocks one hour ahead of their local time. In November, they change their clocks again by setting the time one hour backward, also known as fall back.

However, according to a study, springing forward can affect early birds less than night owls. Every spring, setting the time one hour ahead reduces an hour of sleep to people. As such, springing forward disturbs a person's sleep cycle, which has a significant effect on human health.

According to new data published in Scientific Reports by a team from the University of Michigan, those who have a genetic profile are more likely to become "early birds" for the rest of the year and can adjust to the time change in a few days. However, it could take more than a week for "night owls” to adjust to their sleep schedules. Margit Burmeister, Ph.DThe study believes this is one more strong reason for abolishing Daylight Saving Time

Burmeister is a U-M neuroscientist and geneticist who is the paper's senior and corresponding author. "It's already known that DST has effects on rates of heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and other incidents, but what we know about these impacts mostly comes from looking for associations in large data pools after the fact," Burmeister explained. 

"These data from direct monitoring and genetic testing allows us to see the effect directly and to see the differences between people with different circadian rhythm tendencies that are influenced by both genes and environment. To put it plainly, DST makes everything worse for no good reason," she added.

According to the researchers, the study has implications not only for the annual springtime change. This is because it can also affect shift workers and even travelers across time zones. Burmeister is hoping that there will be differences between people in different professions in future studies.

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