SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN – The U.S. Senate has passed Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s bill to make daylight saving time (DST) permanent across the country, which would end the practice of turning clocks forward in spring and back in autumn.
For the Sunshine Protection Act to become law, the House of Representatives would need to approve it, and President Joe Biden would have to sign it, but the Senate passed the measure unanimously, signaling strong legislative support.
Scientists are less bullish on the idea. Our wakefulness is governed by a circadian rhythm inside us linked to the solar cycle. Although many sleep researchers approve of ending the clock changes, they prefer the use of standard time.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a statement the same day Rubio’s bill passed that said it “cautions that making daylight saving time permanent overlooks potential health risks that can be avoided by establishing permanent standard time instead.”
It added that “today’s quick action by the Senate allowed for neither a robust discussion nor a debate. We call on the House to take more time to assess the potential ramifications of establishing permanent daylight saving time before making such an important decision that will affect all Americans.”
According to the academy’s 2020 position paper in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, DST “is less well-aligned with intrinsic human circadian physiology, and it disrupts the natural seasonal adjustment of the human clock.”
Less sunlight in the morning makes it harder for us humans to get started in the day, and more sunlight in the evening makes it harder to get to sleep.
Darkness is a signal to the pineal gland in our brains that it’s time to start producing more melatonin, which is our body’s cue to lower internal temperature and start feeling sleepy.
Early morning light is detected by the suprachiasmatic gland, which sits above the optic nerves, and its instructions cause our bodies to stop melatonin production … read more.