For many, after we put our clocks ahead an hour on March 13, the Senate passage of the Sun Protection Act introducing year-round daylight saving time seemed like an appealing antidote to our collective drowsiness. After all, who likes to lose an hour? Every year, the loss of sleep associated with “jumping ahead” to daylight saving time leads to this an increase in car accidents and other Health risks and more general grumpiness all around.
But permanent DST is not the answer.
First a little background. Standard Time is just that: a system of 24 time zones Founded in 1883 to standardize the myriad tenses used throughout North America that ravaged the railroad system.
Standard time is more closely aligned with our internal clock. In contrast, “Daylight saving time mistimes our exposure to light and our exposure to darkness,” says Dr. Seema Khosla, chair of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Public Awareness Advisory Committee and medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep in Fargo. This is an important consideration because light is a strong indicator of when we feel awake and when we want to sleep.
Even without our spring changeover to daylight saving time, the days are getting longer again. This helps mitigate the extra darkness in the morning when we change our clocks. But in winter, sticking to daylight saving time would have a more significant impact. In Fargo, where Khosla lives, sunrise on December 21st, the winter solstice, occurs at 8:09 a.m. standard time. Under the year-round daylight saving time, the sunrise there would be after 9 a.m
The sun protection law does not bring any additional daylight. We might associate spring with more daylight, but that’s the result of the natural lengthening of the days, not the clock change. The new law would merely shift one hour of darkness from evening to morning.
That could have consequences. Car accidents for example increase when it is dark, but it is not clear whether more morning accidents would be offset by fewer evening accidents, given many contributing factors. When in 1974 year-round summer time was briefly tested, eight children in Florida were killed by motorists in the early morning darkness. The experiment ended after less than a year.
There are also other risks due to the misalignment between Daylight Saving Time and our “intrinsic human circadian physiology.” That’s why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports it Elimination of Daylight Saving Time a total of.
A permanent shift to darker mornings would exacerbate these risks for teens and would be “completely out of sync with their circadian rhythms,” says Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. Also, the benefits of starting school later would be severely negated because school would biologically start an hour earlier in winter.
This is the opposite of what teenagers need when their body clock shifts to a later point in time during puberty. In California, the later start-time mandate does not apply to rural school districts. This means that students in these districts can still start school earlier than recommended and would have to struggle with the one-hour winter time change.
Nationwide, fewer than 20% of public high schools meet the requirements American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendation to start at 8:30am or later to address chronic adolescent sleep deprivation associated with mental health risks, lower graduation rates, and more. In the northern states, the one-hour change would feel even more pronounced as children attend school when winter is darker than it already is.
We’re all tired of spring’s sleep deprivation and the hassle and confusion of changing our clocks. That is why the abolition of the biannual time change occurs as regularly as clockwork.
Now that the short-term pain of last week’s time change has largely subsided, we’re making sure we’ve fully assessed what’s best for students and what’s safest.
We’re just enjoying the longer evenings through the summertime, but in the winter the layer won’t seem nearly as attractive.
Lisa L Lewis is the author of the forthcoming book The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-03-21/daylight-saving-time-negative-circadian-cycles-sunshine-act Op-Ed: The Problem with Daylight Saving Time