Sleep society calls for elimination of daylight saving time
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a position statement seeking the elimination of daylight saving time, citing the unhealthy and sometimes deadly consequences of it.
“For the sake of public health, the health care community must engage in the political process both at the state and national levels to ensure we move to permanent standard time,” past American Academy of Sleep Medicine president Nathaniel P. Watson, MD, MSc, told Healio Primary Care.
The position statement, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, states that standard time is more closely aligned with human circadian biology. In contrast, daylight saving time may result in “circadian misalignment, which has been associated in some studies with increased cardiovascular disease risk, metabolic syndrome and other health risks,” the authors wrote.
Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic and the academy’s current president, encouraged physicians and other medical societies to join 19 other sleep and pulmonology societies, safety advocacy groups and school-based organizations that have endorsed the academy’s position statement to contact legislators about ending daylight saving time.
Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Sleep Center, added, “powerful economic interests are pushing for permanent daylight saving time. We need a fully engaged health care community to push back and demand a policy that supports optimal human health.”
Michael Downing, a lecturer at Tufts University, said during a New York Public Radio podcast that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressing concerns about fewer shoppers, supports daylight saving time.
Past studies indicate heart attacks, emergency room visits and car accidents increase immediately after daylight saving time. A new study presented during the virtual SLEEP 2020 meeting examined an association between daylight saving time and medical errors. The results were initially published in Sleep, the journal of the Sleep Research Society, in May.
“This is the first study examining the impact of daylight saving time on patient safety-related incidents," Bhanu Kolla, MD, a sleep consultant at the Mayo Clinic, said during a presentation.
From 2010 to 2017, Kolla and colleagues identified 2,699 adverse events that occurred 7 days before the “spring forward” clock change (1,625 from human error) and 2,812 events that occurred 7 days after the clock change (1,902 from human error). There were also 3,007 adverse events 7 days before the fall clock change (2,087 from human error) and 3,207 events 7 days after the fall clock change (2,189 from human error). However, the only statistically significant difference in adverse events was the 18% increase in human errors following the spring time change (95% CI, 6% to 34%; P = .004), which was significantly greater than the 5% increase in adverse events observed in the fall (P = .018), according to the researchers.
Ramar said the findings bolster the importance of the position statement.
“It has come to a point where it doesn't make sense to continue having daylight saving time,” he said.
- WNYC Radio. Who really benefits from daylight saving time? https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/takeaway/segments/who-really-benefits-daylight-savings. Accessed Aug. 28, 2020.
- Kolla B, et al. SLEEP. 2020;doi:10.1093/sleep/zsaa056.171.