This coming Sunday we “fall back,” rewinding the clocks by one hour at 2 a.m.
While we might gain an extra 60 minutes of sleep, we might also be in danger of losing our minds due to the disruption to our senses.
There’s now a renewed call for a countrywide end to the pesky tradition of changing the time twice yearly. It’s led by medical experts, lawmakers and frazzled parents who want a stop to the March and November switch that was formally adopted by the government in 1966 to save energy. (The amount of the year we use daylight saving time was expanded in 1986 and 2007.)
The group is citing COVID-19 as a factor, claiming people are already under stress from the pandemic. They say, since sleep loss leaves us more susceptible to viral illness, it’s a bad moment to potentially lower the body’s immunity.
“Given the relationship of stress to the immune system, I think it would be wise to choose between DST [daylight saving time] and standard time, and stick to it,” said Dr. Beth A. Malow, a professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
She advocates staying in standard time once the clocks go back this weekend and not “springing forward” to DST in March 2021. Hawaii and Arizona, along with Puerto Rico and Guam, already practice this schedule.
“Everybody can just enjoy getting an extra hour of sleep on Sunday ahead of the upcoming election,” she joked.
It is difficult to quantify the benefits of abandoning the switch, but Malow explains that DST transitions can affect a number of brain functions, including alertness and energy levels.
A study in JAMA Neurology from last year found some evidence that people are at higher risk of heart attack, stroke and other harmful effects of sleep deprivation around the time of the shifts, which result in adults losing an average of 15 to 20 minutes of slumber.
Early in 2020, New York state Sen. James Skoufis introduced a bill that would move the Empire State to permanent standard time. However, his efforts were stalled by COVID-19 and politicians focusing on more immediate concerns.
According to his spokesperson, the Hudson Valley Democrat plans to reintroduce the bill next year (assuming he’s re-elected next week).
In September, Florida’s US Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republican, proposed a bill to the Senate to keep America on daylight saving time year-round.
They said it would make life easier amid the COVID-19 pandemic because it would be one less worry for the country.
“Our government has asked a lot of the American people over the past seven months, and keeping the nation on daylight saving time is just one small step we can take to help ease the burden,” Rubio said. He advocated for more daylight in the after-school hours to promote health and well-being.
Parents of young children are often steamrolled by the change with kids waking up early, late or not settling down to sleep. Little more is guaranteed to ruin Mom and Dad’s day than lack of shut-eye.
Manhattan mom Lisa Singer recently launched a Change.org petition to persuade NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo to permanently halt the clock from changing.
The casting director said her 8-year-old daughter Dylan’s sleep patterns are particularly affected by the transitions and fellow parents are “exhausted” due to the disruption.
“People’s immune systems are being compromised,” she said. “And, looking back to when Dylan was younger, I used to dread the switch.”
Her position is shared by building contractor Kathy Stoeklein, of Garden City, Kansas, who is a member of the public Facebook group “End Daylight Savings Time.”
“My body clock doesn’t handle the changes well and, just as I get used to things being one way, it’s time to switch them back,” said the mom of two grown kids.
“They [the legislators] need to leave it one way or the other.”