In the interest of public health and safety, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is calling for the elimination of daylight saving time in favor of permanent year-round standard time — a recommendation that has garnered strong support from multiple medical and other high-profile organizations.
“Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle,” M. Adeel Rishi, MD, lead author of the AASM position statement, said in a news release.
“Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body’s natural rhythm,” said Rishi, Department of Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee.
The position statement was published August 26 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine to coincide with the Virtual SLEEP 2020, the 34th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Significant Health Risks
In the United States, the annual “spring forward” to daylight saving time and “fall back” to standard time, is required by law, although under the statute some exceptions are permitted.
There has been intense debate over the last several years about transitioning between standard and daylight saving time.
The AASM says there is “an abundance of evidence” to indicate that quick transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke, mood disorders and car crashes.
“Although chronic effects of remaining in daylight saving time year-round have not been well-studied, daylight saving time is less aligned with human circadian biology — which, due to the impacts of the delayed natural light/dark cycle on human activity, could result in circadian misalignment, which has been associated in some studies with increased cardiovascular disease risk, metabolic syndrome and other health risks,” the authors write.
A recent study also showed an increase in medical errors in the week after switching to daylight saving time.
“Because the adoption of permanent standard time would be beneficial for public health and safety, the AASM will be advocating at the federal level for this legislative change,” said AASM President Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
It seems that many Americans are in favor of the change.
In July, an AASM survey of roughly 2000 US adults showed that two thirds support doing away with the seasonal time change. Only 11% opposed it.
In addition, the academy’s 2019 survey showed more than half of adults feel extremely, or somewhat, tired after the springing ahead to daylight saving time.
The position statement has been endorsed by 19 organizations, including the American Academy of Cardiovascular Sleep Medicine, American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, National PTA, National Safety Council, Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine, and the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
Weighing in on the issue for Medscape Medical News, Saul Rothenberg, PhD, from the Sleep Center at Greenwich Hospital, Connecticut, said, the literature on daylight saving time has grown over the past 20 years.
He said he was” humbled” by the research that shows that a “relatively small” misalignment of biological and social clocks has a measurable impact on human health and behavior.
“Because misalignment is associated with negative health and performance outcomes, keeping one set of hours year-round is promoted to minimize misalignment and associated consequences,” he added.
In light of this research, the recommendation to dispense with daylight saving time seems “quite reasonable” from a public health perspective.
“I am left with a strengthened view on the importance of regular adequate sleep as a way to enhance health, performance, and quality of life,” he added.
This research had no commercial funding. Rishi and Rothenberg have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
J Clin Sleep Med. Published online August 26, 2020. Full text