Sleep Health | Sleep Review
This weekend marks the end of daylight saving time, when most of the United States reverts to Standard Time by setting the clocks back an hour. If the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) had their way, this would be the last time change in the U.S. and the change to Standard Time would be permanent.
The abolition of the half-yearly time change has met with broad approval.
In a 2020 AASM survey, 63% of adults in the United States said they support getting rid of seasonal time changes in favor of a national, fixed, year-round time.
The AASM and other organizations representing health, safety and education recommended in a position statement by the AASM for 2020 that seasonal time changes be abolished and a permanent standard time introduced for improved public health and safety.
In early 2021, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and several Republican and Democratic colleagues in the US Senate reintroduced a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent in the US
Elimination of seasonal clock changes
There is ample evidence of the negative, short-term effects of seasonal clock changes. Studies have found an increase in car accidents in the week after switching to daylight saving time and an increase in patient safety-related incidents related to human error in the week after switching to and out of daylight saving time. Other negative effects of the spring time change include increased risk of stroke and hospital admissions, and increased production of markers of inflammation, one of the body’s responses to stress. Conversely, another study found that the rate of cardiovascular events decreased during the fall during the transition from daylight saving time to winter time, suggesting that the risk of heart attacks may be increased due to the chronic effects of daylight saving time.
“Light is the strongest timing signal to the human body clock,” said Erin Flynn-Evans, who is a doctor of health and medical science and director of the NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory and advisor to the AASM Public Safety Committee, in a press release. “Switching to permanent summer time in winter would lead to more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, which would lead to a misalignment between the daily rhythm of the body and the timing of everyday social obligations such as work or school. This has the potential to make it difficult for most people to fall asleep at night, disrupt the quality of sleep and lead to sleep loss, which can have negative effects on health and safety. “
While there is discussion of how the merits of permanent daylight saving time compare to permanent standard time, the position of the AASM is that switching to permanent standard time is best consistent with human circadian biology and has the potential to have positive effects on to have public health and safety.
Tips for dealing with the time change
The changeover to normal time in November is still a reality for the time being. As it gets dark earlier in the evening, this is the ideal opportunity to reset your internal clock for an extra hour of sleep. To maximize the benefits of the hour gained by the fall time change, the AASM recommends the following tips for getting a good night’s sleep for those who are not getting enough sleep:
- Before changing your clocks, wait until it’s time to get ready for bed.
- Go to bed at your usual bedtime.
- Set your watch back an hour just before you go to bed.
- Wake up at your standard wake-up time.
- Notice how much better you feel after an extra hour of sleep.
- On the Sunday after the clock change, your normal bedtime is an hour earlier. Go to bed at this earlier time to readjust your sleep schedule to sleep longer.
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