Daylight Saving Time Is Potentially a Health Hazard, Experts Suggest

Feeling groggy, extra sleepy, and sluggish? On Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., daylight saving time ended in most parts of the United States, forwarding time one hour ahead.

In most parts of the U.S., aside from Hawaii, most parts of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, clocks changed on March 12. Forwarding time by one hour means time immediately jumps one hour, leaving citizens with one less hour to sleep and rest. Although one hour may not seem like a lot, experts suggest it could cause trouble and health complications.

Many people oppose the time change and the Senate unanimously tried to pass a law forgoing the act in 2022 but failed to do so by the House of Representatives. Senator Marco Rubio is trying to waive the act again for both health and economic merits.

"We’re about to once again do this annual craziness of changing the clock, falling back, springing forward. We need to stop doing it. There is no justification for it. Let’s go to permanent Daylight Saving Time. The overwhelming majority of members of Congress approve and support it. Let's get it done. Let’s get it passed so that we never have to do this stupid change again," says Senator Rubio in a press release.

The crucial point of forgoing the program is to allow more light in the evening, giving people more time outside. When it comes to health issues, it has been more complex. Recent research suggests that springtime change is associated with a more significant risk of cardiac events, possibly deriving from a distorted sleep schedule. One study in 2020 found that daylight saving time heightened hospitalizations for atrial fibrillation, a condition bringing irregular and fast heart rhythm that can sometimes cause blood clots in the heart.

Many experts say it's beneficial to leave daylight saving time in the past. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Medical Association also agree to eliminate the system, maintaining morning light. "Human circadian rhythms are very closely linked to the rising and setting of the sun," says psychologist and president of the AASM, Jennifer Martin, Ph.D.

With daylight saving time hindering our sleep schedule, Martin continues that our internal circadian rhythm often doesn't cooperate well. "Light in the morning is very important," she says. "Restoring permanent, year-round standard time is the best option for our health and well-being."

"When I work with folks who have insomnia, we work very hard to have a consistent time to get up in the morning. And that is much easier when it's light in the morning," continues Martin.

Pedram Navab, D.O., a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist from Los Angeles, says the Senate misunderstands the process. "The natural daily cycle of light and darkness is really the most powerful timing cue that we have to synchronize our body clock."

Daylight saving time leads to more exposure to light in the evening, which can disturb our circadian rhythm and sleep. Navab is planning on going to Capitol Hill in April along with the American Academy for Sleep Medicine to object to the Sunshine Protection Act, which will make daylight saving time the new permanent standard time.

The ASSM says much evidence suggests health complications resulting from continuing daylight saving time, such as mood shifts, cardiovascular diseases, and even car accidents.

Aside from health complications, keeping daylight saving time is thought to be linked with financial advantage, as more people go out in the evening and spend money on food, shopping, events, and more.

The Sunshine Protection Act was disregarded by the House of Representatives last year due to other critical matters. This year may also see a replay of that, with inflation, a massive budget imbalance, and conflict in Ukraine.

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