HONOLULU – At its Interim Meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates on Monday supported ending daylight saving time and move permanently to standard time.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and others pointed to the potential health benefits of the move.
“For far too long, we’ve changed our clocks in pursuit of daylight, while incurring public health and safety risks in the process. Committing to standard time has health benefits and allows us to end the biannual tug of war between our biological and alarm clocks,” said AMA Trustee Alexander Ding, M.D., M.A, MBA.
Although the chronic effects of remaining year-round in daylight saving time (which shifts daylight hours later in the evening) have not been well studied, sleep experts say that standard time (which shifts daylight hours earlier in the morning) aligns best with human circadian biology. Data show that the sudden change from standard time to daylight saving time in March is associated with significant public health and safety risks, including increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders, and motor vehicle crashes. Some studies suggest that the body clock does not adjust to daylight saving time even after a few months.
This year, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to establish permanent daylight saving time, but there is a lot of daylight between that version and the AMA-endorsed approach. The House has not taken up a bill on the issue. Twenty states have endorsed year-round daylight saving time, but Congress must act for the changes to take effect.
“Eliminating the time changes in March and November would be a welcome change. But research shows permanent daylight saving time overlooks potential health risks that can be avoided by establishing permanent standard time instead,” Ding said. “Sleep experts are alarmed. Issues other than patient health are driving this debate. It’s time that we wake up to the health implications of clock setting.”
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