Saturday, May 21, 2022

CU sleep scientist argues against permanent daylight saving time

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — A decades-long push to stop the clock-switching in Colorado is finally gaining momentum, with multiple bills being discussed both here and at the federal level.

But which would be better: permanent standard time or permanent daylight saving time? For University of Colorado Boulder sleep science professor Kenneth Wright Jr., the debate is an easy one.

“All the evidence suggests a permanent standard time is going to be healthier, based on what we know,” Wright said.

Wright’s reasoning begins with our circadian rhythms and the importance of staying in sync with Earth’s 24-hour light-dark cycle.

In the morning, daylight helps reset our clocks, while the setting of the sun indicates it’s time to begin winding down for the evening. Wright said that daylight saving time, at its core, makes us want to stay up later each night.

“As a general rule, that is going to lead to us getting less sleep. Because we want to go to bed later, we want to wake up later, but yet we still have to wake up early for school, so that combination produces health problems and safety problems,” Wright said.

That’s why he believes a switch to constant standard time would be more advantageous, with sunrises always happening before 8 am in Colorado.

Wright’s line of thought goes against a bill currently making its way through the Colorado legislature, which would move the state to permanent daylight time.

Proponents argue that an extra hour of light in the evening from November through March would increase physical and mental health while giving the economy a boost.

“We think that people are healthier when they have daylight time, because they can be out in the evening, exercising or riding,” bill sponsor Cathy Kipp said. “We also think business and commerce improve because people can go shopping, go out to dinner.”

But Wright said that extra hour of daylight is coming from somewhere, and the impact on mornings would be more significant than people think.

“We’re actually going to lose over two months of sunshine before 8 am, and we’ll lose three months before 7 am, so there are implications for safety there,” he said. “And that also means our children will be waiting outside for the bus in the morning, in the dark.”

Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, Wright said it’s clear the switch needs to stop, citing increases in heart attacks, strokes and traffic accidents around those twice-a-year switches.

“I think we all agree that we want to get rid of this change, because the change is something that doesn’t need to happen,” he said.

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