‘Health consequences’ behind push to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, eliminate semiannual clock change

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — We are counting down to daylight saving time when we roll our clocks back an hour. But, there’s a growing push to get rid of the time change altogether.

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday morning. Back in 2019, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that would put the state on DST permanently if Congress authorized states to do it. Now bills are proposed in both houses of Congress to do just that.

“We’re about to once again do this annual craziness of changing the clock, falling back, springing forward. We need to stop doing it. There is no justification for it. Let’s go to permanent Daylight Saving Time,” said Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. “The overwhelming majority of members of Congress approve and support it. Let’s get it done. Let’s get it passed so that we never have to do this stupid change again.”

According to NASA scientist Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, the time change is bad for our physical health particularly in the Spring where we lose an hour of sleep.

“We also see health consequences and occupational accidents. We see an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes, we see an increased risk of a heart attack after the springtime change. People feel grumpy after the springtime change, and it takes them longer to adapt,” Dr. Flynn-Evans said.

She explained that we don’t see the same effects for the Fall time change because of getting that extra hour of sleep. But they feel the benefit from the fall time change does not outweigh the negative effects of the springtime change, including long-term health consequences of persistent circadian misalignment.

“Circadian misalignment is when your work or school obligations are mistimed relative to your internal clock. And we see this a lot with shift workers, for example, who have to work may be at night or late hours, relative to when they get to sleep and wake and it’s very hard for shift workers who can’t easily adapt,” said Dr. Flynn-Evans. “The difference in one hour that we see with the time changes, this is a much more mild form of circadian misalignment. But we know that this is associated with increased mood disturbance. We know that this is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular incidents. We know that persistent circadian misalignment is associated with increased risk of cancer.”

According to the Associated Press, when Florida’s governor signed what was dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act” in 2019 to keep the Sunshine State on daylight saving time all year long, the Florida PTA warned it would endanger students.

“National PTA is opposed to daylight saving time during the winter months because of the safety factor,” Heidi May Wilson, spokeswoman for the National Parent Teacher Association, told the Washington Post in 2019. According to the report, people are concerned that that “the already dark, cold mornings of fall and winter under standard time would become even darker and colder, and potentially dangerous for kids walking to the bus stop or to school.”

An AP poll showed seven in 10 Americans prefer not to switch back and forth to mark daylight saving time.

Senator Rubio’s office said the 2021 bill to make daylight saving time permanent has bipartisan support and was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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