Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead March 10; sleep experts say sticking with standard time would be best for health, safety

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

It’s almost time to “spring forward” one hour into daylight saving time, which sleep experts don’t support because they say it doesn’t align with humans’ internal circadian rhythms. Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 10 at 2 a.m. local time.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says “The United States should eliminate seasonal time changes in favor of permanent ST [standard time], which aligns best with human circadian biology. Evidence supports the distinct benefits of ST for health and safety, while also underscoring the potential harms that result from seasonal time changes to and from DST.” The AASM published its position statement in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The authors explain that human activities are affected by three clocks: the internal biological rhythm, also known as the circadian clock; the solar clock; and the social clock. When these three clocks align, the authors write that this allows for optimal health and performance.

But when the solar clock is misaligned with the other two, they write, that causes a desynchronization between the internal circadian rhythm and the social clock — and that happens with the change to daylight saving time.

“The yearly change between ST and DST introduces this misalignment, which has been associated with risks to physical and mental health and safety, as well as risks to public health,” says the statement.

The AASM statement has links to several studies that show the adverse physical and mental health outcomes that come from moving clocks forward in the spring, including a surge of heart attacks, strokes and car crashes, to name a few.

A new study of the heart-health effects by the Mayo Clinic “suggests that the impact is likely minimal,” says a release from the clinic.

Federal law allows individual states to exempt themselves from observing daylight time, and Kentucky has a bill to do that. However, House Bill 674, sponsored by Rep. Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, has not even been assigned to a committee.

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