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Permanent daylight saving time will harm our health, say experts

Permanent daylight saving time will harm our health, say experts

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The end of daylight savings time is once again upon us, the fall tradition when the United States, Europe, most of Canada and a number of other countries turn their clocks back an hour in a kind of Groundhog Day confidence slump. We’ll move them forward (again) next spring when governments revert to daylight saving time.

But do we believe in an unhealthy, outdated idea?

Not according to the United States Senate, which passed in March Sun Protection Act of 2021 – if it becomes law, daylight saving time will be permanent.

“The call to end the antiquated practice of changing the clock is gaining momentum across the nation,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who first introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate. in a statement. The Florida Legislature voted to make daylight saving time permanent in Florida in 2018, but it cannot go into effect until it is also federal law.

The bill still has to pass through the US House of Representatives and signed by the President. If or when that is the case, we will move our clocks forward and leave them at that, permanently living one hour ahead of the sun.

However, a growing number of sleep experts say that the act of moving the clocks forward in the spring is destroying our health. Studies in the last 25 years have shown that the one-hour change disrupts the body’s rhythms adjusted to the Earth’s rotation, adding fuel to the debate over whether daylight savings in any form is a good idea.

“I’m one of the many sleep experts who know it’s a bad idea,” said Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a professor of neurology in the department of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Your body clock stays with the (natural) light, not the clock on your wall,” Klerman said. “And there is no evidence for that Your body moves completely in a new time.”

dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Evanston, Illinois also opposes daylight saving time.

“Between March and November, your body receives less morning light and more evening light, which can disrupt your circadian rhythm,” she said.

The standard time we enter when we turn our clocks back in the fall is much closer to the sun’s day-night cycle, Zee said. This cycle has set our circadian rhythm, or body clock, for centuries.

That internal timer controls not only when you sleep, but also when you want to eat, exercise or work, as well as “your blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol rhythm,” Zee added.

Our bodies need early morning light to set the internal clock, experts say.

A call for a ban Daylight Savings Time Forever comes from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which best aligns with human circadian biology and provides clear public health and safety benefits.”

The proposal was supported by more than 20 medical, scientific and civic organizations, including the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the National Parent Teacher Association, the National Safety Council, the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and the World Sleep Society. .

When our internal clocks shift from the solar day-night cycle by even one hour, we develop what sleep experts call “social jet lag.” Studies have shown that social jet lag increases the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, aggravates mood disorders such as depressionaffects the digestive and endocrine system and shortens ours sleep duration. It can even reduce life expectancy,

A A 2003 study found that sleeping one hour less for two weeks had the same effect on thinking and motor skills as not sleeping for two full nights. Decreased sleep by 90 minutes from recommended 7 to 8 hours for adults changed the DNA of immune cells and increased inflammation, a key cause of chronic disease, according to another study.

If the time change were permanent, the chronic effects of sleep loss would be more severe, not only “because every year we have to go to work an hour earlier for an extra 5 months, but also because body clocks tend to be later in winter than in summer with respect to the sundial.” it is stated in the announcement Society for Research in Biological Rhythms.

“The combination of summer time and winter would therefore exacerbate the differences between the body clock and the social clock and have an even more negative impact on our health,” the authors concluded.

There are reasons why the US Senate unanimously passed the Sun Protection Act. Advocates let’s say that additional daylight in the evening reduces traffic accidents and crimeand increases opportunities for commerce and recreation, as people prefer to shop and exercise during the day.

However, research has shown both heart attacks and fatal traffic accidents increase after the clock falls forward in the spring. Children too finish school in the morning while it’s still dark – with disastrous consequences.

When President Richard Nixon signed permanent daylight saving time into law in January 1974 it was a popular move. But by the end of the month Governor of Florida has called for the law to be scrapped after eight schoolboys were hit by cars in the dark. Schools across the country delayed starting until the sun rose.

By the summer, public approval had plummeted, and in early October Congress voted to return to standard time.

A similar backlash occurred when the US first implemented Daylight saving time 1918as a way to reduce the demand for electricity by adding sunlight at the end of the day in response to the First World War. (Studies because they found little or no cost savings in practice.) The time switch was so unpopular that the law was repealed the following year.

“The United States has tried twice before to make daylight saving time permanent and it has stopped before. The UK has already tried once and finished early. Russia tried it once, and so did India, and it stopped early,” Klerman said. “I think we should learn from history.”



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