Twice a year, the dreaded time change rolls around. Let’s be honest for a second; daylight saving time is just annoying. That’s right, I said it. Sure, it’s cool to get that extra hour of light when it feels like we’ve been living in the dark all winter. But the fact is, daylight saving is a social construct and we don’t need it anymore.
“Springing forward” isn’t just setting you up for a rough morning. It also has the potential to impact your health and safety. Experts are now suggesting that the U.S. should establish a permanent standard time –– aka no more daylight saving time.
There Are No Biological Needs, But Plenty Of Downsides
Here’s the thing about daylight saving time –– it has a significant impact on our internal clocks or circadian rhythm. And not just for a few days. The effect is lasting. Not only does it make it harder to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night, but in the long run, the disturbances in sleep can potentially lead to heart failure, heart attack or strokes.
All of this comes down to light. Our circadian rhythm naturally syncs up to the light outside our windows. Daylight saving doesn’t give our bodies time to adjust. Our circadian rhythm plays a part in everything to do with our bodies –– from our blood pressure to hormone production.
Studies have shown that the acute effects after the switch are an increased risk of stroke or heart attack. It’s worth noting that the analyses find the increased risk in the few days after the change –– so it’s not 100% clear if it is the time change or if the medical emergencies were going to happen anyway. Regardless, the implications the time change has on our sleep is evident.
63% Of Americans Want A Fixed National Time
That number climbs to 74% for Americans that have children between five and 18. Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Arizona already don’t even observe it. The European Parliament recently ended mandatory daylight saving time. It can be done!
The official position of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is “that the U.S. should eliminate seasonal time changes in favor of a national, fixed, year-round time. Current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”
Action from Congress is needed to make this happen. Though state-level legislation is possible. 9 states have passed measures to stay on daylight-saving time all year and no longer change the clocks, and others are considering doing the same.
Even if we do stop observing daylight saving, it likely won’t be anytime soon. So in the meantime, our advice is to anticipate the change and plan accordingly. In the few weeks leading up, move your sleep and wake time little by little to accommodate the interruption.
Too Long, Didn’t Read?
Nobody likes daylight saving time. It once served a purpose when we didn’t have artificial light to work into the night. Now that we do, daylight saving is obsolete. We cannot ignore the impact it has on our sleep and safety. That said, for now, it’s here to stay. Be intentional about how you sleep leading up to the change to minimize the impacts.