As the US prepares to “fall back” to standard time on Nov 1, medical experts and legislators suggest seasonal time changes are taking a toll on more than just our time. A recent survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that a majority of Americans (63%) support the elimination of seasonal time changes in favor of a national, fixed, year-round time.

“Evidence of the negative impacts of seasonal time changes continue to accumulate, and there is real momentum behind the push to end seasonal time changes,” says AASM president Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, in a release. “The AASM believes that a fixed, national year-round standard time would be of tremendous benefit to overall health and safety.”

A recent position statement from the AASM noted that public health and safety would benefit from eliminating seasonal time changes altogether, calling for use of permanent standard time as it more closely aligns with the daily rhythms of the body’s internal clock. The position statement outlines the acute effects of time changes, which range from increased risk of stroke and hospital admissions to sleep loss and increased production of inflammatory markers, one of the body’s responses to stress. In addition, a recently published research abstract found an 18% increase in adverse medical events related to human error in the week after switching to daylight saving time in the spring.

On a national scale, the AASM’s position statement has been endorsed by more than 20 organizations, including the National Safety Council, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the World Sleep Society. Legislators have also come out in support of a fixed, year-round time in recent months, including Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who recently introduced a bill to keep daylight saving time in place through the fall of 2021. The bill has been placed on the Senate calendar.

“Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle,” says M. Adeel Rishi, MD, a pulmonology, sleep medicine and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisc, and vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee, in a release. “Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body’s natural rhythm.”

To maximize the benefits of the hour gained from the fall time change on Nov 1, the AASM recommends the following healthy sleep tips:

  • Wait to change your clocks until it is time to get ready for bed.
  • Go to bed at your usual bedtime.
  • Just before getting into bed, set your clocks back one hour.
  • Wake up at your regular wake time, which will allow you one more hour of sleep.
  • Take note of how much better you feel after an extra hour of sleep and make that a goal each day.

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