Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) released a statement requesting an end to daylight saving in favor of a “national, fixed, year-round time.”
Their call to stop the decades-old practice in the U.S. comes during a year when the suddenly earlier sunset will feel even more dreary because of COVID restrictions. A handful of states across multiple time zones–from California to Oregon to Arkansas to Tennessee–are also talking about nixing it.
The AASM argues that the negative health effects of the twice-annual clock adjustment far outweigh its benefits. “An abundance of accumulated evidence indicates that the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks,” the statement reads.
They write that the spring-forward has been linked with a temporary increase in heart attack and stroke, and both the setting forward and backward of clocks seem to cause higher rates of sleep issues, mood disturbances, and suicide (not to mention, more car crashes and missed appointments). Another recent report published in PLOS Computational Biology estimates that each spring clock shift can be associated with up to 880,000 “negative health effects” globally, and 150,000 in the U.S.
A lot of this comes down to the way that daylight saving affects our circadian rhythm. It may not seem like a lot, but setting the time back an hour is enough to confuse our body’s internal clock. The resulting circadian misalignment has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. And while you may assume that this blip passes in a few days, there is some research suggesting its effects can last months.
“It’s a misalignment of your biological rhythms, or circadian rhythms, for eight months out of the year,” Beth Malow, M.D., a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, tells Scientific American of daylight saving.