Sleep experts weigh in on debate over keeping daylight saving time

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – On March 11, 2022, people across the globe, including the majority of Americans, moved their clocks ahead one hour to Daylight Saving Time.

A few days later, the US Senate voted to make daylight saving time permanent year round but according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, that’s a bad idea for our overall health.

The concept of shifting the hours of sunlight dates back over one hundred years.

In the early 20th century, it was enacted during wartime as a way to conserve energy.

“With the idea being at the time it would conserve energy by reducing the consumption of coal and other things to driving the lights operating machinery etcetera,” said Dr. Charles Zeller, Program Director for the Department of Otolaryngology at Broward Health.

The annual switch between standard time and daylight saving time became permanent in the US in the mid 1960s.

Over the years, studies have raised concerns about the shift.

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“The idea of ​​having these twice yearly time changes ultimately results in sleep deprivation for many people and that becomes a cumulative effect,” Zeller said.

It’s especially difficult for people like Ronaldo Lopez, who already suffers from sleep apnea.

He gets up early every morning to make the long commute to his teaching job.

“I’m very groggy, I get headaches so I wish we could have a consistent time schedule,” he said.

Studies have shown the average American loses 40 minutes of sleep each year when we “spring forward,” and also an increase in the risk of stroke, heart attack, motor vehicle accidents, mental health problems, and suicide.

Although some believe making daylight saving time permanent would solve those problems, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine disagrees, and has issued a policy statement that standard time should be observed year-round.

Zeller said that’s because darkness in the morning isn’t conducive for waking up and sunlight late into the evening keeps the mind and body from naturally winding down.

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“Included with this whole idea of ​​why standard time is more healthy is it falls more in line with our internal clock, what we know as our circadian rhythm,” he said.

Sticking with year round standard time makes sense to Lopez.

“I think it would be easier for me to begin my day in daylight so I would be in favor of them not switching time frames and not switching to daylight saving time, I would be totally in favor of that,” Lopez said.

Two states, Arizona and Hawaii, observe year-round standard time.

The House has yet to vote on the Senate bill for permanent daylight saving time but a similar move in the early 1970s proved to be a failure, and was reversed.

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