An industry group of sleep doctors is renewing its plea for Daylight Savings Time (DST) to be abolished, saying it's harmful to personal and public health and safety.
"By causing the human body clock to be misaligned with the natural environment, daylight saving time increases risks to our physical health, mental well-being, and public safety," Dr. M. Adeel Rishi, a pulmonary and sleep care specialist at the Indiana University Health system in Indianapolis, said in a new statement issued by the American Association of Sleep Medicine (AASM). "Permanent standard time is the optimal choice for health and safety."
The AASM has for years now called for the United States to end DST and make standard time — that is, the time it becomes when we set our clocks back in the fall — permanent.
Back in 2020, the group issued its first public call to eliminate DST, citing "evidence of increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, cardiovascular events, and mood disturbances following the annual 'spring forward' to daylight saving time" — though of course, we're all feeling out-of-whack with this year's "fall back," which brings us back into standard time and also makes it seem like the Sun is setting even earlier in the evening.
Along with the AASM and 19 other professional medical organizations, the American Medical Association also supports the elimination of what it calls "seasonal time changes."
As the AASM points out in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which published the expanded statement calling for an end to DST, there have been repeated attempts by medical professionals to end the federally-mandated time change, both in 1973 and more recently starting in 2020.
Though doctors' first try was very unpopular, changes in public opinion meant that the group's more recent pushes have been more well-received.
Whether anything will be done about it remains to be seen. A proposed law called the "Sunshine Protection Act" would make DST permanent — as opposed to making standard time permanent, which is what doctors want. That act unanimously passed the Senate in 2022, but has since stalled and not been brought to a vote in the House, and reading between the lines, this may be because there's some debate (or, perhaps, confusion) over whether it's better to stick to standard time or DST.
"When we 'fall back' and lose the extra hour of daylight saving time... we are sacrificing energy savings, crime reduction and economic benefits for darkness," Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement about the Sunshine Protection Act. "Over the years, I’ve fought and won to extend daylight saving time — adding two months' worth of Sun to the American people’s calendar, which saves the same amount of electricity as used by over 100,000 households for an entire year."
Notably, the AASM actually came out against the bill to make DST permanent and said that effort "overlooks potential health risks that can be avoided by establishing permanent standard time instead."
It's never a good thing when doctors and politicians are in disagreement. And in the meantime, it seems like we all feel a bit more overwhelmed by "fall back" and its ensuing darkness each year. There's no word on whether Congress will do anything about the DST discourse before we "spring forward" again next year, but considering the other huge thing looming in 2024, it seems unlikely to be a top concern.
Share This Article