Daylight saving time debate rages amid preparations to 'fall back' Sunday; health experts weigh in

ByMarc Cota-Robles KABC logo
Friday, November 3, 2023
Daylight saving debate continues amid preparations to 'fall back'
The perennial debate over daylight saving time is in full swing as most of the U.S. prepares to "fall back" early Sunday, when 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m.

The perennial debate over daylight saving time is in full swing as most of the U.S. prepares to "fall back" early Sunday, when 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m.

On Nov. 5, daylight saving time is out and standard time is in, and will last until March 10.

No need to wait till the midnight hour to prepare for the time change. Before bed beckons Saturday night, rewind the clock on the microwave, oven, car, or any other device not yet clever enough to make the leap on its own.

Health effects of daylight saving time

Recent polls show that most Americans support eliminating the time change. And the American Medical Association agrees.

"Any change that affects your sleep, cumulative over time, can with it bring all the detrimental effects of sleep loss," said Dr. Alok Patel of Stanford Medicine Children's Health. "So that can include mood disorders, loss of focus, loss of judgment, and even some long term issues such as changes in your blood pressure, your blood sugar and more."

Besides scheduling stumbles and sleep habit disruptions, experts say the twice-yearly ritual can have more serious effects on human health.

Many Americans are already sleep-deprived, and a change in time messes with sleep schedules even more, says Dr. Phyllis Zee, a sleep researcher at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, although she says "falling back" and gaining an extra hour is generally easier on the body than "springing forward" and losing one.

Check out these fast facts about daylight saving time.

Chronic sleep deprivation can increase levels of stress hormones that boost heart rate and blood pressure, and of chemicals that trigger inflammation, research suggests.

"Just that one hour can change the amount of sleep you get, the quality of sleep that you get," Zee said. Off-kilter sleep can affect people's ability to multitask, stay alert, and even maintain their balance, making them more prone to accidents.

Molly Hart, spokeswoman for AAA's Auto Club Group, warned that there may be an uptick in accidents on the road following the time change.

"With daylight savings coming to an end, what people really need to be focused on is their driving now in the afternoon when it's darker earlier," and when they may be feeling drowsy, she said.

Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time.

Reform efforts in Congress

Some members of Congress have pushed to end the back-and-forth and make daylight saving time permanent.

The U.S. Senate in March 2022 passed a bipartisan bill named the Sunshine Protection Act, but it stalled in the House. The bill was re-introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio in March of this year.

"If we can get this passed, we don't have to do this stupidity anymore," Rubio said at the time. The bill was referred to committee, where it has remained idle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.