Stop The Madness? Push On To End Daylight Saving Time Changes

March 10, 2019

In 2018, Florida state government passed a bold new piece of legislation.

The “Sunshine Protection Act” was meant to ensure the state — known for its miles of beaches, world-class golf courses, citrus industry, Cuban cuisine and other qualities — would have another distinguishing feature: Year-round daylight saving time.

The proposal still needs federal approval before it can take effect. Elsewhere in Washington, D.C., Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced legislation to show the light to the rest of the nation.

In California, voters approved a measure to keep the state on daylight saving time through the year. That also needs approval, from state officials and eventually from federal lawmakers as well. Other states have considered similar measures.

And in Pennsylvania, a state lawmaker has a proposal that would take the Keystone State in the opposite direction: Rep. Russ Diamond, R-102, Lebanon County, wants the state to abolish daylight saving time and stay in Eastern Standard Time through the entire year.

“Some may assume that adopting permanent DST is more appealing due to the emotional romanticism of summertime activities during the other three seasons,” Diamond wrote in a memo to fellow lawmakers. “However, given that Pennsylvania is geographically situated roughly between the 75th and 80th parallels, our traditional schedules as they relate to winter daylight, and the natural idea that noon should approximate the time of the sun’s zenith (hence, “mid-day”), Eastern Standard Time is the logical preference.”

Diamond has used the hashtag “#StopTheMadness” to promote the proposal.

The sudden forward shift of the clocks causes people to lose sleep, which causes a variety of problems. Some studies have shown an increase in workplace injuries, heart attacks and other ailments in the week after the spring shift. Madness indeed. Diamond referenced those issues in his memorandum to the legislature.

Dr. Michael Marino, a sleep doctor with Geisinger Health System, knows that about two or three weeks from now, he’ll have several urgent requests from patients.

The shift to daylight saving time in the spring often brings in people who have trouble waking up. Sleep is sometimes interrupted in the middle of a rapid-eye-movement cycle, so patients feel as if they haven’t slept enough. The autumn shift brings more patients who have trouble falling asleep.

Young, healthy people without sleep disorders can usually rebound in four or five days, but Marino sees patients whose intermittent insomnia is exacerbated by the shift and turns into a more chronic problem.

“Some people get knocked out with this adjustment,” he said. “It’s like jet lag. It’s a similar phenomenon.”

People whose sleep cycle is disrupted for a single night because of a social event can usually bounce back within day.

“Not with daylight saving time,” Marino said. “It’s as if you’ve been training for something for the last six months, then suddenly we change the rules.”

When a normal bedtime is thrown off, the sleep cycle and all its benefits gets thrown off as well.

One tactic he prescribes to patients with chronic insomnia is to gradually shift their bedtime 15 minutes earlier for several weeks ahead of the shift. If they are used to going to bed at 11 p.m., a gradual change to 10 p.m. in the weeks ahead can help.

If he were crafting policy, he would support eliminating the twice-annual shift and keep Eastern Standard Time in place through the year, which is the same change Diamond wants to see.

In the meantime, don’t let the circadian conundrum go to waste. The National Sleep Foundation recommends using daylight saving time as an opportunity to “reset” your sleep habits.

The organization has several pieces of advice for better sleep hygiene, such as going to sleep and waking up and the same time every day, avoiding bright light in the evening and creating a quiet, dark and cool environment for sleeping.

Consistency is key, Marino said. Avoiding caffeine late in the day and limiting outside noise, by using a white noise machine if necessary, are helpful. If you still have problems sleeping, a visit to your doctor may provide answers.

“Do all you can to set yourself up for success,” he said.

Contact the writer:

bwellock@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2051, @CVBillW

Can’t adjust?

Having trouble sleeping with the change to daylight saving time? Visit www.sleep.org for advice on how to adjust.