Daylight saving time or standard time? Sleep doctor weighs in on which is better year-round

Mar 16, 2022, 4:10 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm
Daylight Saving Time...
The U.S. Senate recently approved a bill making daylight saving time permanent. Photo credit: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Except for Hawaiians and Arizonans, most Americans set their clocks one hour ahead on March 13 for daylight saving time while losing that hour of sleep in the process, but scientists have said this “springing forward” of clocks may actually be detrimental to our health and safety, according to healthline.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023. The House of Representatives must still pass the Sunshine Protection Act before President Joe Biden can sign the bill into law, according to Reuters.

The opposite of daylight saving time is standard time, sometimes referred to as winter time or normal time. More than 60% of the countries in the world use standard time all year, according to timeanddate.com.

Ask the expert on daylight saving time

Dr. Krishna Sundar, who is a professor of pulmonary medicine at the University of Utah and the medical director of Sleep Wake Center, joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to talk about the effects of twice-yearly clock switching on our health.

“I’m falling asleep right now. I am so tired. I just want to take a nap and curl up on my desk. Is it all in my head or is this real?” Dave asked.

“A number of surveys have found that at least a third of Americans do not meet the required seven to eight hours of sleep time,” Sundar said. “So in your case, that’s not unusual. And it may take a while for you to catch up.”

“Doctor, what would be the downside to keeping daylight saving time year-round?” Debbie asked.

“We have clocks in every cell in the body. . . This clock in every cell integrates with virtually every function of the cell and that has enormous health implications. . .  We are aligned to what we call the master environmental cue, which is the sunlight. This alignment is important for our health,” Sundar said.

Time switching can have adverse effects on health

When this alignment is broken, even temporarily, it can lead to an uptick in cardiovascular problems and result in increased hospitalizations this time of year, he said.

The switch to daylight saving time is associated with:

  • An increase in car crashes and fatal motor vehicle crashes,
  • Increase in missed medical appointments,
  • A higher risk of stroke and hospital admissions,
  • An increased risk of mood disturbances and
  • Disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, impairing sleep quality and leading to sleep loss.

Dr. Sundar added that adding more daylight to the end of the day in the summertime has a tendency to delay nighttime sleep schedules, resulting in loss of sleep.

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine‘s (AASM) position statement actually states that we should be setting our clock to standard time,” he said.

Current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, according to AASM.

“Permanent year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match the circadian sleep-wake cycle,” said Erin Flynn-Evans, a sleep and circadian researcher.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Daylight saving time or standard time? Sleep doctor weighs in on which is better year-round