Is Daylight Savings Time over?

Now is the time when many countries put the clock back, but there are strong incentives in both the European Union and the US to end the practice. If you ask sleep experts, there are compelling reasons to do so.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been intensely debated in recent years. A large number of US States have been determined to abolish the practice but have lacked Federal approval. With the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, however, this may change.

In Europe, too, DST has been up for discussion. In 2019, the European Commission proposed to end seasonal clock changes, but the Council of the European Union asked the commission for a detailed impact assessment. Thereby they effectively put the issue on ice.

Consequences of DST

Traditional arguments for observing DST include saving energy, preventing traffic accidents, and reducing crime. However, sleep experts negate several of these arguments while presenting others in favor of fixed, national, year-round standard time:

Increase in fatal traffic accidents: Research shows a 6% increase in risk of fatal traffic accidents following Daylight Savings Time, plausibly due to reduced alertness caused by lack of morning light.

Higher risk of Stroke: A 2015 study from Finland found that the stroke rate was 8% higher in the days following the transition to DST. For certain population groups, such as cancer patients and the elderly, the risk was significantly higher.

Detrimental to student performance: A study of public schools in Indiana compared SAT scores for schools in counties that observed DST to schools in counties that didn’t. They found a negative impact of about 16 points in schools that observed DST.

These are among the arguments that lead to a 2020 position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) to recommend abandoning DST:

“A change to permanent standard time is best aligned with human circadian biology and has the potential to produce beneficial effects for public health and safety.”

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Daylight saving time is ‘not helpful’ and has ‘no upsides,’ experts say. Adriana Rodriguez, USA Today.