Is Permanent Daylight Saving Time a Health Risk?


Wendy M. Troxel, Senior Behavioral/Social Scientist

Like most people, I tend to dread that time in the spring where we have to spring our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time. That hour of lost sleep really hurts. And in fact, evidence shows that there is an increase in car crash rates and heart attacks and other negative consequences in that week immediately following the spring forward.

Now clearly, the springing forward has some consequences. However, they are temporary. A shift towards permanent Daylight Saving Time doesn't actually give you more sunlight. It only shifts when we are exposed to sunlight and it makes the exposure to sunlight later in the day. What human beings really benefit from is morning light exposure. That means that permanent Daylight Saving Time for a good part of the year would actually further deprive us of that critical morning light.

Now we know that lack, particularly of morning sunlight, has direct impacts on sleep, on mental health, and productivity. So while that shift as we spring forward or fall back may have some temporary consequences, that is far preferable to permanent Daylight Saving Time. And if we were to choose, the science would suggest that permanent Standard Time is the way to go.

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