Stick With Standard Time for Country’s Health

Target: Bernie Sanders, Chair of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Goal: Do not support proposed switch to permanent daylight savings time.

Turning the clocks back or forward every year summons the usual debate about if the practice should end. Polls consistently signal that the majority of Americans are not in favor of alternating between standard time and daylight savings time. Congress has even weighed in, attempting to introduce a measure that would make daylight savings time permanent: the so-called Sunshine Protection Act. While the measure might seem beneficial at first glance, history—and the healthcare community—disagree.

For one, the annual “spring forward” is correlated with a host of health problems in the immediate aftermath, from lack of sleep and focus to increased heart attack rates. Car accidents, likely resulting from the aforementioned lack of sleep, also typically rise. These results occur because putting our bodies out of alignment with the sun disrupts our circadian rhythms, or internal clocks. These natural body processes control everything from our sleep cycles to our digestion and blood pressure. Resetting them is no small feat (and a detrimental one at that), but every year our bodies are forced through this process. And even the perceived psychological and mood benefits of daylight savings time are more of a placebo effect, since it occurs during a time of the year when days are naturally longer and brighter anyway.

Congress has attempted making daylight savings time permanent once before in the 1970s. The experiment quickly ended that same year by popular demand. Individuals did not like mornings full of darkness, particularly when they had to travel to work or school in this depressing and detrimental environment. History should not have to repeat itself before a lesson is learned.

Many healthcare professionals do agree that switching the times is not good for people, but by and large their solution runs opposite of politicians’ whims: keep standard time permanent. Sign the petition below to encourage support for this overlooked but potentially optimal solution.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Sanders,

Many members of Congress would love to stop “springing forward” and “falling backward.” Medical researchers and practitioners, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Medical Association, largely agree with this decision. They are sounding alarms about the negative health effects (from chronic insomnia to depression) of changing to daylight savings time. The problem is that they are equally concerned about Congress’ proposed solution: keeping the practice that wreaks havoc on our internal rhythms and our bodies as a whole.

Daylight savings time began as an attempt to conserve energy: a goal that has largely proven useless and unbacked by evidence. While it did not yield the expected energy savings, the time change was successful in upping heart attacks, car crashes, and cutting into workplace and school productivity in the crucial morning hours. And speaking of those morning hours—when that light exposure sets the template for our moods for the rest of the day—we are starting our days off in darkness…hardly the “smiles” and “sunshine” that the Sunshine Protection Act promotes.

This experiment of making daylight savings time permanent has already failed once, so perhaps it’s time not to reward this failure but to end the experiment for good. If the country wants a consistent time, make it the healthier and natural standard time.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Amit Pal


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