Daylight Saving Time Deprives us of the Early Morning Sunshine that Regulates our Bodies
By Yehudit Garmaise
The skies in NYC will darken much earlier starting on Sunday after we turn our clocks back one hour this Motzei Shabbos. Our return to Standard Time, however, will likely help us to feel better as well.
While providing more time during the summer for kids to play outside and for adults to walk and enjoy the sunlight, pushing the clocks forward in the spring causes us to lose the sunlight in the morning, which can put our biological clocks out of whack.
Early-morning sunlight doesn’t just start off our days cheerfully, but experts say that waking up to a sunny day helps us to maintain our overall health.
Waking up in darkness, as DST necessitates, can be detrimental to our health by interfering with our circadian rhythms, which are our internal processes that regulate our sleep cycles.
When we wake up to a bright, yellow sun, our special receptors in our eyes receive signals that regulate our metabolic and hormonal processes that start our days right.
Every March, the sudden one-hour shift causes people to feel symptoms of exhaustion and disorientation that are similar to jet-lag.
In addition, just after we “spring ahead,” health professionals report an increase of patients who suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and sleep disruptions.
Automobile and other types of accidents also increase, the Washington Post reported.
Most sleep and circadian experts say that, for health reasons, we should stop changing the clocks twice a year and just stay in Standard Time.
In March, however, two days after the US pushed its clocks ahead to observe DST, U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which, if passed by the US House of Representatives, the US would enforce DST all year long.
“Resetting the clocks may soon be a thing of the past,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI), who sponsored the bill that would need to pass the House and receive presidential approval to go into effect.
Neglecting to fall back to standard time, which we will do on Sunday, however, would just continue to lengthen the darkness of night, so that the sun will not rise until as late as 9am: depriving human beings of the burst of early morning sunlight that we need to regulate our bodies.
“We would be misaligned all year long,” said Beth Malow, professor of neurology and pediatrics and the director of Vanderbilt University’s sleep division, who does not think permanent DST is advisable.
In addition, If DST were enforced year-round, school children would be forced to walk to school in the dark, when G-d forbid, more accidents occur.
DST in the winter also negatively affects Orthodox Jewish men by making the earliest zman for davening at a time which would unnecessarily delay many people from getting to work on time.
Given the health, safety, and davening implications, if Americans were to ditch one mode of time: Daylight Savings Time perhaps should be the one to go.
On Sunday, the return of Standard Time means the sun will rise a little earlier, so early risers can enjoy the sun’s rays with their coffee, davening, exercise, and work.
Although the increased sunshine in the morning necessitates that the skies will be dark before we return home in the evenings, early nights can provide more of an excuse to stay in and relax at home with our families.
Plus, on Motzei Shabbos, after we turn our clocks back to Standard Time, we get one extra hour of sleep.