Permanent Daylight Saving Time Would Hurt Health


Veronica Butler

Senate should not have passed a bill supporting permanent daylight saving time because of many mental and sleep health reasons.

Veronica Butler, Online Editor

Permanent Daylight Saving Time will possibly start Nov. 5, 2023. This means that the clocks will go back forward in March 2023, and stay that way permanently, due to a bill passed by the Senate March 15, 2022. The bill still needs to be seen by the House of Representatives and the president before it becomes law.

Senate should not have passed this bill because of many mental and sleep health reasons.

The biggest issue presented by health experts is that moving the clocks forward in the spring results in declining health. Dr. Elizabeth Klerman, a professor at Harvard Medical, said that a body’s circadian rhythm is lined up with daylight hours, not the clock, and that there is no evidence that the body ever fully shifts with the new time. Between March and November, the body gets less morning light and that can throw off the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm, or body clock, sets not only what time we sleep but also what time we should eat and exercise as well as our blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. It can also harm glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity and an imbalance in satiety hormones that can lead to a larger food consumption and weight gain which is already a huge problem in the U.S. 

Another potentially fatal issue is that the misalignment of circadian rhythm and sleep deprivation from getting up an hour earlier has shown an increase in traffic accidents. The changing of the clock also causes mornings to be darker and the evenings to be brighter, changing the illumination conditions for peak travel times. Research shows that daylight saving time increased multi-vehicle accidents by 6% in the afternoon hours and the number of MVAs decreased significantly in the week following the transition back to standard time.

Permanent daylight saving time is also an issue for children. Having to wait for a bus in the dark increases the chance of being struck by a car. WIth the mornings being darker, teenagers driving to school have to drive in the dark for the entire school year and not just from March to November. Permanent daylight saving time also drastically increases sleep deprivation in teens as well as kids and adults. 

Some experts say that permanent daylight saving time could allow children to play outside longer and possibly reduce seasonal depression. While this would be beneficial, the cons outweigh the pros on this issue. With the misalignment of circadian rhythms, cortisol levels can become sporadic, which could cause an increase in stress. An increase in stress wouldn’t help seasonal depression or any kind of depression.

It would be more beneficial for the government to set the time to permanent standard time rather than permanent daylight saving time because it aligns best with circadian rhythm and would be more beneficial to health. It would also cause less traffic accidents and consequently, deaths due to MVAs.