WVXU: Is it time to stop 'falling back?' Sleep experts say yes

UC expert says the biggest issue around the time change is school safety

The semi-annual changing of clocks by an hour in the spring and fall has detrimental health impacts and some experts say it's time for that practice to be abolished including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Medical Association (AMA). In a position statement published in 2020 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the AASM reports there are negative health effects associated with switching to daylight saving time, including increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular deaths, myocardial infarction, hospital admissions from acute atrial fibrillation and more. The AMA has also come out in favor of year-round standard time.

Ann Romaker, MD, of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, spoke to WVXU on the topic.

Ann Romaker, MD, of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the UC College of Medicine

"When you have a miss-alignment between the timing of your own body clock and what the rest of the world wants you to do, they call that 'social jet lag.' You didn't get to fly to Europe or go anywhere but you get the negative effects," Romaker says.

When most of the country switches to daylight saving time in the spring, Romaker says research shows there's "more inflammatory chemicals running loose in the body. There's lower tone of the vagus nerve, which is the one that controls the heart and swallowing, so there's a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure and reduced sleep during daylight saving time in the summer," she says. "In the fall when you go backwards, that's been associated with mood disturbances and increased rates of suicide; traffic accidents increase in the first few days after the change, and fatal crashes increase 6% in the United States."

For Romaker, school safety is the biggest reason to stay on standard time year-round.

"When you have kids going to school in the dark in the morning, there's clear evidence that there's a much higher incidence of car accidents involving children," Romaker says. "We come home from work in the dark in standard time but we're a little more used to that and the kids aren't on the road. We do better with driving and accident rate when we follow the standard schedule."

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