Sleep experts call for an end to daylight saving time as it impacts health and may lead to more accidents
Daylight saving time does more harm than good, warn sleep experts
Every year Americans set their clock forward in March and back in November to make the most of the sun and save energy. But the practice --called Daylight saving time -- does more harm than good, warn sleep experts.
In their new study, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) say it is time to abolish seasonal changes and adopt a “fixed, national, year-round standard time.” Daylight saving time disturb sleep patterns, leading to issues such as heart complications, stroke, mood changes, increased suicides, and traffic accidents, experts said.
“There is ample evidence of the negative, short-term consequences of the annual change to daylight saving time in the spring,” AASM President Dr Kannan Ramar, said in a statement. “Because the adoption of permanent standard time would be beneficial for public health and safety, the AASM will be advocating at the federal level for this legislative change.”
The researchers explain that standard time closely matches our body's biological clock while daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening. That disrupts the body’s natural rhythm, lead author Dr M Adeel Rishi, pulmonology, sleep medicine and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and vice-chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee, said. “Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle," he added.
Transition period and health
One study found the switch from standard to daylight saving time was linked to an 18% rise in adverse medical events related to human error. What is more, the transition period has also witnessed a surge in accidents, with an increase in fatal crashes by up to 6% in the US, AASM experts said. One study found that eliminating daylight saving time could have averted more than 600 fatal accidents in 22 years.
An AASM survey captured the mood of the people in July. Of the more than 2,000 American adults who took part in the poll, 63% said they supported scraping of seasonal time changes in favor of national, fixed, year-round time. Only 11% felt otherwise. Further, a 2019 poll found that the transition left 55% of adults extremely or somewhat exhausted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans do not get enough shut-eye. Insufficient sleep is linked to a range of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.
But not everyone is convinced that the standard time is more beneficial. “I don’t necessarily agree with the argument that it comports better,” Jamie Zeitzer, a professor of psychiatry at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, who was not involved in the AASM paper, told the Post. “The way our rhythm positions itself is actually quite flexible.”
The AASM pointed out that there is insufficient data on the long-term effects of daylight saving time on physiology, performance, health, economics, and safety. "Studies that compare the impacts of permanent standard time to permanent DST are also needed," they wrote.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine