The controversial debate about daylight saving time (DST)—results of a retrospective forensic autopsy study in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) over 10 years (2006–2015)

Abstract

Worldwide, many people are exposed to biannual time changes. The benefit of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is controversially discussed and its impact on human health is largely unknown. The present study examines, whether effects of these time changes are seen in a forensic autopsy database. The mortality study is based on autopsy protocols provided by the Institute of Legal Medicine, University Clinic of the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, covering a period of 10 years (2006–2015). Data regarding mode and cause of death, age, and gender were evaluated for 4 weeks around the transition to and from DST in spring and autumn. A significant (p = 0.04) elevation in the number of autopsies was observed in the first week following the switch to DST in spring, but no significant changes were noted in autumn. Gender-specific analysis indicated that the autopsy rate of females showed a significant (p = 0.01) peak in the first and a decline (p = 0.05) in the second week following the switch to DST. Differences in non-natural death cases primarily included traffic accidents and suicides, in natural death cases fatal cardiac diseases like cardiac insufficiency and acute myocardial infarction. The number of suicides was low (p = 0.05) before, but high (p = 0.07) in the weeks after the introduction of DST. The present evaluation confirmed a potential effect of DST, such as a significant higher autopsy rate in spring during the first week after the introduction to DST. Moreover, a relation between the introduction to DST in spring and an increase in suicide cases was observed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 1.

    Havranek T, Herman D, Irsova Z (2016) Does daylight saving save energy? A meta-analysis. Prague: Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences Charles University. IES Working Paper: 24/2016

  2. 2.

    Kantermann T, Juda M, Merrow M, Roenneberg T (2007) The human circadian clock’s seasonal adjustment is disrupted by daylight saving time. Curr Biol 17:1996–2000. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.025

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Allebrandt KV, Teder-Laving M, Kantermann T, Peters A, Campbell H, Rudan I, Wilson JF, Metspalu A, Roenneberg T (2014) Chronotype and sleep duration: the influence of season of assessment. Chronobiol Int 31:731–740. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2014.901347

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Lahti TA, Leppämäki S, Ojanen SM, Haukka J, Tuulio-Henriksson A, Lönnqvist J, Partonen T (2006) Transition into daylight saving time influences the fragmentation of the rest-activity cycle. J Circadian Rhythms 4:1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1740-3391-4-1

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kountouris Y, Remoundou K (2014) About time: Daylight Saving Time transition and individual well-being. Econ Lett 122:100–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2013.10.032

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Shapiro CM, Blake F, Fossey E, Adams B (1990) Daylight saving time in psychiatric illness. J Affect Disord 19:177–181. https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-0327(90)90089-Q

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Barnes CM, Wagner DT (2009) Changing to daylight saving time cuts into sleep and increases workplace injuries. J Appl Psychol 94:1305–1317. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015320

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Lahti T, Sysi-Aho J, Haukka J, Partonen T (2011) Work-related accidents and daylight saving time in Finland. Occup Med (Lond) 61:26–28. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqq167

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Lahti T, Nysten E, Haukka J, Sulander P, Partonen T (2010) Daylight saving time transitions and road traffic accidents. J Environ Public Health 2010:657167. https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/657167

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Varughese J, Allen RP (2001) Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: the American experience. Sleep Med 2:31–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1389-9457(00)00032-0

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Coate D, Markowitz S (2004) The effects of daylight and daylight saving time on US pedestrian fatalities and motor vehicle occupant fatalities. Accid Anal Prev 36:351–357. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0001-4575(03)00015-0

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Huang A, Levinson D (2010) The effects of daylight saving time on vehicle crashes in Minnesota. J Saf Res 41:513–520. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2010.10.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Janszky I, Ljung R (2008) Shifts to and from daylight saving time and incidence of myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med 359:1966–1968. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc0807104

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Janszky I, Ahnve S, Ljung R, Mukamal KJ, Gautam S, Wallentin L, Stenestrand U (2012) Daylight saving time shifts and incidence of acute myocardial infarction – Swedish Register of Information and Knowledge About Swedish Heart Intensive Care Admissions (RIKS-HIA). Sleep Med 13:237–242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2011.07.019

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Kirchberger I, Wolf K, Heier M, Kuch B, von Scheidt W, Peters A, Meisinger C (2015) Are daylight saving time transitions associated with changes in myocardial infarction incidence? Results from the German MONICA/KORA Myocardial Infarction Registry. BMC Public Health 15:778. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-2124-4

  16. 16.

    European Parliament. Time change arrangements (2018) European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on time change arrangements (2017/2968(RSP)). P8_TA-PROV(2018)0043

  17. 17.

    Anglmayer I, Ex-Post Evaluation Unit (2017) EU summer-time arrangements under Directive 2000/84/EC. Brussels: ex-post evaluation unit of the Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value, Directorate–General for Parliamentary Research Services of the Secretariat of the European Parliament. Report Nr: PE611006

  18. 18.

    Ackermann H (2017) BiAS. für Windows. Version 11. Epsilon-Verlag, Hochheim Darmstadt

  19. 19.

    Ellis DA, Luther K, Jenkins R (2018) Missed medical appointments during shifts to and from daylight saving time. Chronobiol Int 35:584–588. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2017.1417313

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Lahti TA, Leppämäki S, Lönnqvist J, Partonen T (2006) Transition to daylight saving time reduces sleep duration plus sleep efficiency of the deprived sleep. Neurosci Lett 406:174–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2006.07.024

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Sharma BR (2007) Sudden infant death syndrome: a subject of medicolegal research. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 28:69–72. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.paf.0000220934.18700.ef

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Vennemann MM, Hense HW, Bajanowski T, Blair PS, Complojer C, Moon RY, Kiechl-Kohlendorfer U (2012) Bed sharing and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome: can we resolve the debate? J Pediatr 160:44–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.06.052

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Vennemann MM, Bajanowski T, Brinkmann B, Jorch G, Sauerland C, Mitchell EA, GeSID Study Group (2009) Sleep environment risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome: the German sudden infant death syndrome study. Pediatrics 123:1162–1170 https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2008-0505

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Moon RY, Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2016) SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: evidence base for 2016 updated recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics 138:e20162940. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2940

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Manfredini R, Fabbian F, De Giorgi A, Zucchi B, Cappadona R, Signani F, Katsiki N, Mikhailidis DP (2018) Daylight saving time and myocardial infarction: should we be worried? A review of the evidence. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 22:750–755. https://doi.org/10.26355/eurrev_201802_14306

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Čulić V, Eterović D, Mirić D (2005) Meta-analysis of possible external triggers of acute myocardial infarction. Int J Cardio 99:1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2004.01.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Sandhu A, Seth M, Gurm HS (2014) Daylight savings time and myocardial infarction. Open Heart 1:e000019. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2013-000019

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Elliott WJ (1998) Circadian variation in the timing of stroke onset: a meta-analysis. Stroke 29:992–996. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.STR.29.5.992

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Foerch C, Korf HW, Steinmetz H, Sitzer M, Arbeitsgruppe Schlaganfall Hessen (2008) Abrupt shift of the pattern of diurnal variation in stroke onset with daylight saving time transitions. Circulation 118:284–290. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.771246

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Sipilä JO, Ruuskanen JO, Rautava P, Kytö V (2016) Changes in ischemic stroke occurrence following daylight saving time transitions. Sleep Med 27-28:20–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2016.10.009

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    International Transport Forum (ITF) (2017) Road safety annual report 2017. OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/irtad-2017-en

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    McDonald KC, Saunders KE, Geddes JR (2017) Sleep problems and suicide associated with mood instability in the adult psychiatric morbidity survey, 2007. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 51:822–828. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867416687398

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Pigeon WR, Pinquart M, Conner K (2012) Meta-analysis of sleep disturbance and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. J Clin Psychiatry 73:e1160–e1167. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.11r07586

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Tonetti L, Erbacci A, Fabbri M, Martoni M, Natale V (2013) Effects of transitions into and out of daylight saving time on the quality of the sleep/wake cycle: an actigraphic study in healthy university students. Chronobiol Int 30:1218–1222. https://doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2013.812651

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Lahti TA, Leppämäki S, Lönnqvist J, Partonen T (2008) Transitions into and out of daylight saving time compromise sleep and the rest-activity cycles. BMC Physiol 8:3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6793-8-3

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Berk M, Dodd S, Hallam K, Berk L, Gleeson J, Henry M (2008) Small shifts in diurnal rhythms are associated with an increase in suicide: the effect of daylight saving. Sleep Biol Rhythms 6:22–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00331.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Harvey AG (2008) Sleep and circadian rhythms in bipolar disorder: seeking synchrony, harmony, and regulation. Am J Psychiatry 165:820–829. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.08010098

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Lahti TA, Haukka J, Lönnqvist J, Partonen T (2008) Daylight saving time transitions and hospital treatments due to accidents or manic episodes. BMC Public Health 8(74). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-8-74

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lena Marie Lindenberger.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lindenberger, L.M., Ackermann, H. & Parzeller, M. The controversial debate about daylight saving time (DST)—results of a retrospective forensic autopsy study in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) over 10 years (2006–2015). Int J Legal Med 133, 1259–1265 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-018-1960-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Daylight saving time
  • Death cases
  • Epidemiology
  • Forensic autopsy
  • Suicide
  • Traffic accidents