The danger of daylight saving


Used with permission by Canva/Yulia Zelinskaya

The Sunshine Protection Act may remove daylight saving time, resulting in benefits for one’s physical and mental health along with fewer car accidents.

Grace Miner, Staff Writer

Changing the clocks, biannual jet lag and altering the amount of light per day may be eliminated within a few years, as the United States Senate has passed The Sunshine Protection Act, a bill removing daylight saving time throughout the nation. 

While the bill must go through the House of Representatives and President Joe Biden in order to be approved, support for eliminating daylight saving time has increased greatly within the past few decades. Two states have already abolished this practice, Arizona and Hawaii. Their primary reason was that daylight saving time had a minimal effect on the amount of daylight they received, making it unnecessary and bothersome. 

However, other states are starting to doubt the effectiveness of daylight saving time, due to its negative health effects. It has been proven to disrupt people’s sleep cycles, along with increasing strokes and heart attacks. According to Dr. Zee, the chief of Sleep Medicine at the Department of Neurology at Northwestern Medicine, “With DST [daylight saving time], between March and November, your body is exposed to less morning light and more evening light, which can throw off your circadian rhythm… you also throw off your sleep homeostasis. As a result, your sleep health is at stake, along with a number of functions in your body.”

Northwestern Medicine goes on to state the negative impacts it has on one’s overall health, especially for those who already have an underlying health condition. “During the week after the shift to DST, research shows an associated rise in: Cardiovascular disease, with a 24% higher risk of heart attacks… Stroke rates, which increased by 8%; Mental health and cognitive issues, with an 11% spike in depressive episodes.” 

In addition, daylight saving time has been proven to increase car accidents due to drivers being more exhausted when driving, resulting in poor decision-making. Healthline supports this by stating, “On average, the time change causes a 6% increase in fatal car accidents in the week following the spring DST transition.”

While the passing of the Sunshine Protection Act will result in ample benefits, it will also cause a debate on permanently setting U.S. clocks to daylight saving time (when it is lighter longer in the spring) or standard time (when it becomes darker sooner in the fall). Health professionals advocate for standard time, stating it has more health benefits, such as improving levels of sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, “They [experts on sleep issues] argue a permanent standard time is more in line with human circadian rhythms, and that this schedule would carry benefits for public health and safety.” Inversely, others advocate for daylight saving time to become permanent for it to remain lighter outside longer, reducing crime rates and helping the environment. Sleep Foundation claims, “…it [daylight saving time] decreases energy consumption, reduces costs, and protects the environment. There is also evidence that crime rates decrease.” 

In summary, The Sunshine Protection Act would eliminate daylight saving time and provide numerous benefits, such as improving sleep quality and overall health, along with reducing car accidents; however, it will also result in a controversial debate over permanently setting the clocks to standard or daylight saving time.