(Nevada News Service) Early Sunday morning, most people across the United States lost an hour of sleep but gained an hour of afternoon daylight as they moved their clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time.
Dr. Vishisht Mehta, director of interventional pulmonology for Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, said while changing clocks has become a nuisance for many, the time change also presents health impacts, such as influencing people's circadian rhythms, which he said can be thought of as the body's "own internal clock."
Mehta said from November to March, the body is better aligned with the light and dark cycles in standard time, and added when that alignment is disrupted, that is where trouble starts.
"Specifically, you may experience sleep loss and worsening sleep debt. There's poor outcomes and effects for our heart rate, blood pressure and worsened inflammation as well," Mehta said.
Mehta added adjusting one's schedule gradually is the best way to adapt to the time change, and suggested getting to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you are going to bed an hour earlier than you used to. Sun exposure also helps reset the body's internal rhythm, he said.
Mehta added The American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports permanently switching to standard time. In Congress, the Sunshine Protection Act was recently re-introduced, which would make Daylight Saving Time permanent, ending the need to turn back clocks in November. Mehta supports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's stance of making standard time permanent because 'springing forward' is known to result in a greater probability of health-related risks from increased hospital admissions to increased risks of strokes and heart attacks, he said.
"While I agree with abolishing the changes back and forth, when we set ourselves up I think we should stick with the standard time," Mehta said.
Those who support the Sunshine Protection Act say it would be beneficial for the economy and lead to more productivity, and medical professionals such as Mehta warn people's overall health may be on the line, too.