With the switchover to daylight saving time this weekend comes the annual debate about whether to make daylight saving time permanent. We seldom hear discussion of making standard time year round, but that is exactly what the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends. Following are some excerpts from a 2020 opinion piece released by AASM:
By artificially shifting the clock time an hour forward, daylight saving time causes a misalignment between the clock time and solar time, which interferes with the timing of our circadian rhythm. This disruption results in a condition known as “social jet lag,” which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and depression. If daylight saving time becomes permanent, then Americans will be living with social jet lag year
The Dark Side of Daylight Saving Time
Rather than “saving” light, daylight saving time shifts the clock time of daylight hours, allowing it remain light later in the day. However, the tradeoff is that daylight saving time also shifts the clock time of sunrise, causing it to remain dark later in the morning. During the winter months, permanent daylight saving time would delay sunrise until after 8 a.m. in much of the country, and after 9 a.m. in some states that are farther north (and even later for Canada north of the 49th Parallel). These long, dark mornings would make it difficult to wake up for school and work, and the safety of children would be jeopardized while waiting at the bus stop and walking to school in the dark. The extended morning darkness also would be problematic for people who experience seasonal affective disorder. Morning sunlight is essential for mood regulation, especially during the shorter days of winter.
Permanent Daylight Time was tried and failed
We know that establishing permanent daylight saving time would be a mistake because we’ve tried it before, and it failed. In December 1973, Congress enacted the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973, which established a permanent daylight saving time experiment time starting Jan. 6, 1974. A national survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago found that 79% of Americans supported the concept of permanent daylight saving time when surveyed in December 1973. By February 197 4, after implementation of permanent daylight saving time, support plummeted to just 42%. The primary reason for opposition to permanent daylight saving time was that children had to go to school in the dark during the winter months. After just one winter of permanent daylight saving time, Congress reversed course by amending the legislation t o reinstate standard time during the winter months beginning in November 1974.
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