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Daylight Savings Affects Health

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Changing between standard time and daylight savings disrupts more than just sleep.

Most US households will turn their clocks back an hour as part of the twice-yearly change between daylight saving time and standard time. Both the transition into and out of DST has been associated with sleep disruption, mood disturbances, and suicide.The problem, according to neurologists and sleep specialists, is that our bodies’ natural clocks are out of sync with daylight saving time. According to Dr. Logan D. Schneider, MD, a sleep neurologist at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in Redwood City, CA., our internal clocks optimize various bodily functions throughout the 24-hour day, including digestion, hormone secretion, and the sleep-wake cycle. Several studies bear this out including a 2019 review in the Journal of Clinical Medicine and a paper published in PLOS Computational Biology in 2020.

Based on these studies and other evidence, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s (AASM) position statement strongly agrees that daylight saving time should be eliminated

AASM Position Statement:  Abstract

The last several years have seen intense debate about the issue of transitioning between standard and daylight saving time. In the United States, the annual advance to daylight saving time in spring, and fall back to standard time in autumn, is required by law (although some exceptions are allowed under the statute).An abundance of accumulated evidence indicates that the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks, including increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders, and motor vehicle crashes.

Although chronic effects of remaining in daylight saving time year-round have not been well studied, daylight saving time is less aligned with human circadian biology—which, due to the impacts of the delayed natural light/dark cycle on human activity, could result in circadian misalignment, which has been associated in some studies with increased cardiovascular disease risk, metabolic syndrome and other health risks. It is, therefore, the position of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that these seasonal time changes should be abolished in favor of a fixed, national, year-round standard time.