Local doctors oppose making Daylight Saving Time permanent due to health concerns

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 12:49 AM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - As people gained an hour of sleep over the weekend, the push to stay on standard time is gaining momentum.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) came to an end early Sunday morning.

“The benefit of that is we gain an extra hour of sleep,” said Dr. Carl David Boethel, Pulmonologist at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Temple. “The problem is, we lose that hour of sleep in the Spring.”

Boethel, who is a sleep specialist, says more morning sunlight helps humans function better...and DST gives less of it.

“When you move to Daylight Saving Time, what will occur is, you shift the sleep time to where the patient is having to go to bed earlier, but their biological rhythms are designed to make them stay awake longer,” said Boethel. “As a result, people will usually stay awake later, then they have to get up earlier, which leads to sleep deprivation.”

And sleep deprivation, studies show, may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, sleep and mental health disorders, and it can even shorten life-expectancies.

“There’s some harms with that, there’s an increased risk of heart attack that’s been very well documented,” said Boethel.

As a result, Boethel is part of a growing list of doctors against a permanent Daylight Saving Time.

“There is a movement across the country now to sort of stay on one set time: if we were to go to that and just have one set time, it’d be best to stay on standard time,” he said.

However, there’s a push in Congress to make DST the permanent time.

A new study published this month in the journal Current Biology shows a 16 percent increase in vehicle-deer crashes in the U.S. the week following the autumn clock change, which the study attributes to the extra hour of nighttime driving that falls during the peak of deer mating season.

Therefore, the study reports, having DST all the time would save 33 lives and almost $1.2 billion a year in collision costs.

DST proponents also say it’s good for business and commerce and would curb crime.

Still, doctors say studies over the last two decades show the time change disrupts body rhythms and is harmful.

Lawmakers have until Dec. 15, the remainder of the lame duck session, to pass the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make DST permanent, before the current Congress comes to a close.

The U.S. has tried having permanent Daylight Saving Time twice before: once in 1918, and then again in 1974.

Both times, it failed to stick.

In 1918 the Standard Time Act, which put the country on what they called ‘war time,’ was discontinued the next year after the WWI ended.

In 1974, the law, which was signed by President Nixon, was repealed ten months later--and two months after Nixon’s resignation over Watergate--following reports of children being killed on the way to school in the darkness.