Don’t forget to turn your clock back one hour Nov. 5-6; sleep experts say standard time is the better one for health and safety

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

It’s almost time to “fall back” one hour into standard time, which sleep specialists say is better for our health because it more closely matches our body’s internal clock. Standard time officially begins on Sunday, Nov. 6.

“Daylight saving time disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms and impacts sleep,” Jennifer Martin, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said in a news release. “Standard time provides a better opportunity to get the right duration of high-quality, restful sleep on a regular basis, which improves our cognition, mood, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being.”
Why is standard time better for our health? “The daily cycle of natural light and darkness is the most powerful timing cue to synchronize our body’s internal clock,” the sleep-medicine academy says. “When we receive more light in the morning and darkness in the evening, our bodies and nature are better aligned, making it easier to wake up for our daily activities and easier to fall asleep at night. Daylight saving time disrupts our internal clock, leading to sleep loss and poor sleep quality, which in turn lead to negative health consequences.”
Polling shows that most Americans want to stop changing their clocks twice a year, and the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation (without debate) to do just that. But it wants the national, fixed, year-round time to be daylight saving time.
The bill, called the Sunshine Protection Act, is stalled in the House. But as the House considers the legislation, the sleep-medicine academy has implored its members to evaluate the evidence that supports the adoption of year-round standard time.
The academy argues that in addition to matching our body’s internal clock, standard time means more light and thus safety in mornings, especially for commuters and children heading to school. It says daylight time disproportionately affects those in the northern part of the country because of late sunrise times, especially in the winter. The academy also points to studies that show that seasonal time changes are risky to people’s health.
The academy also notes that Congress tried permanent daylight time in 1973 to reduce energy consumption, but reverted back to standard time eight months into the two-year plan due to massive complaints.
“By eliminating the seasonal time change and adopting standard time permanently on a national scale, we can all reap the benefits of better overall health and an enhanced sense of safety for ourselves and our families,” Martin concluded.
An Associated Press poll last fall found that three-fourths of Americans supported having the same time year-round, but they were divided on which one, with 43% saying standard time and 32% daylight time.
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