It’s time to reset our internal clocks, too

Most Americans don't like the time change. But until Congress does away with it, there are ways to adapt.

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Columnists

November 9, 2021 - 9:37 AM

The rising sun lights up the morning clouds over the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest in California. (Raul Roa/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Daylight savings time has just ended and now everyone has had the chance to “fall back” to standard time. While many people enjoy that extra hour of sleep that comes each fall, 63% of Americans say that they would support the elimination of seasonal time changes and there are some health issues to consider. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also supports this stance due to the sleep disruption that occurs related to this biannual change.

Our body has its own internal clock called the circadian rhythm which helps set our internal sleep-wakefulness cycle. This cycle is sensitive to light, especially daylight. It is responsible for the production of melatonin and serotonin in our brain. Melatonin helps synchronize our sleep-wake cycle to our environment. Unfortunately, bright lights and anything with a back lit screen — phone, television, tablet, or computer — suppresses your body’s production of melatonin and can adversely affect your sleep quality.  

A study completed in 2020 by the National Institutes of Health found that 150,000 Americans experience negative health effects related to daylight savings time changes, mainly with the “spring forward” changes. The four most prominent health conditions with increased risks of occurring in the weeks following the time changes include the following: cardiovascular disease (including increased risk of heart attacks), increased risk of injuries, worsening of mental or behavioral disorders, and flares in immune related diseases.

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