Story at a glance
- On March 12th, the country will set its clocks forward one hour, marking the start of daylight saving time.
- However, sleep experts say the shift is detrimental to health.
- They instead advocate for an end to time changes and the adoption of permanent standard time.
With daylight saving time set to begin on March 12, sleep experts are advocating to get rid of clock changes once and for all in favor of permanent standard time.
“Mounting evidence shows the dangers of seasonal time changes, which have been linked to increased medical errors, motor vehicle accidents, increased hospital admissions and other problems,” said Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) in a statement.
“Restoring permanent, year-round standard time is the best option for our health and well-being.”
Polls have shown Americans are mostly in favor of nixing the time changes but prefer implementing permanent daylight saving time over standard time, thanks in part to the former offering more hours of sunlight in the evenings.
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In 2021, legislators introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to adopt permanent daylight saving time in all states except Arizona and Hawaii, the only states that operate on standard time year round.
Despite the AASM’s opposition to the act, it was passed by the Senate in 2022.
The loss of an extra hour of sleep on March 12th and the darker mornings that will follow for the next eight months do not align as well with human’s natural circadian rhythms as permanent standard time, experts say.
Implementation of daylight saving time in the spring is also linked with an increased risk of heart attacks, and mood disturbances, along with heightened risks of stroke and increased production of inflammatory markers, according to the AASM’s statement. The markers are one of the body’s responses to stress.
In the days immediately following the switch to daylight saving time, research shows traffic fatalities rise by as much as 6 percent.
The time change is especially hard for teenagers, experts say, as these individuals tend to be sleepier and have slower reaction times and a harder time paying attention in school in the days after the spring ahead.
To minimize any sleepiness that might be associated with the switch, the AASM recommends individuals get at least seven hours of sleep each night before and after the shift, and adjust the timing of daily routines like meal times that serve as time cues for the body.
Experts also recommend gradually adjusting bedtimes by shifting them 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night a few nights before the switch.
“Planning ahead and adjusting your sleep schedule before the change to daylight saving time can help your body adapt and reduce the negative effects of the time change,” said Martin.
Daylight saving time first began in 1918 through the Standard Time Act as a way to help save energy costs during World War I.
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