Look, I get it. Daylight Saving Time is certainly not the most important issue out there.
As I write this, there are huge and really significant issues going on all over the globe, and I don't want to take away from any of those.
But I've been working on this issue now for five years, and I can say that the science is now making it clear that this is not a novelty issue, this is a legitimate public health topic.
I hadn't added much to my research page in recent months, even though it is one of the most popular pages on the site and is certainly the one that gets copied the most often. (Usually without credit, grumble grumble.)
And in adding to that page I discovered some new research from Germany that has answered a question I've had for a long time.
You see, I'd seen all the studies that showed heart attacks went up, strokes went up, etc. I'd read how traffic accidents were worse. The studies, however, didn't go all the way. For instance the heart attack studies just looked at people who showed up at the hospital having had a myocardial infarction. They might have lived, the study didn't say. What about the people who had a heart attack at home and died without even making it to the hospital?
In short, what I hadn't seen was some researcher just look at the death records. I mean, I would think deaths would go up given all the other science, but I couldn't actually say that the DST "spring forward" time change was an actual killer.
Now I can.
The research from Germany published in the International Journal of Legal Medicine looked at actual autopsy reports over a 10-year period.
The findings are clear. More deaths from heart attacks. More deaths from traffic accidents. Statistically significant, scientifically proven... death.
People dying specifically because we lose an hour of sleep artificially.
The cruel irony is that this study comes from Germany, the very country that's the reason we have DST. It had been proposed, but not yet adopted, in the U.S. and England, before WWI. It was during that war that Germany adopted the clock-switching, and much of the rest of the world followed suit, and we've had some form of it ever since.
So, I really do get it. The whole debate can seem kind of frivolous given the really serious problems we have around the world. I have fun every year posting all the creative new memes that come out, and I'll keep doing that. And it can be fun and slightly mind-warping to think about the very notion of time.
But the science is now clear. Changing clocks kills people every single year, and will keep killing people until we stop it.