LOS ANGELES - Daylight saving time (DST) — that one-hour clock adjustment observed by most of the United States — occurs on March 13, 2022, and this can leave many Americans, well, tired.
Each year, it forces weary clock owners to shift their devices an hour ahead, usually before bed Saturday night, to ensure being on time for Sunday morning activities.
What is daylight saving time?
The "Spring Forward" clock shift occurs each year at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March — or March 13 in 2022. "Falling Back" occurs on the first Sunday in November.
The new shift means the dawn's early light will break through later than it has during the months of standard time and the twilight's last gleaming will extend deeper into the evening.
While the one-hour shift in time may seem minute, it can still cause sleep disruptions for some people and lead to a reduced quantity and quality of sleep.
In 2019, more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. were asked how tired they felt after daylight saving time was initiated, and 55% of respondents said they felt extremely or somewhat tired.
How did daylight saving time start?
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, DST started in the U.S. in 1918 as a way to create more sunlit hours when the weather is the warmest.
During the long days of summer, the sun rose in some northern regions between 4 and 5 a.m., when most non-farmers were asleep. Sunset happened before 8 p.m. and people turned on lights. By moving the clocks ahead an hour, backers believed the country could divert a bit of coal-fired electricity to the military instead of using it for an hour of home power. It was again adopted in World War II.
After each war, Congress rescinded the national laws, but many people liked the extra hour of sunshine at the end of summer days, so some states and even cities observed daylight saving time while others kept standard time year-round.
By 1966, airlines and other clock-watching businesses became tired of such quirks and pushed Congress to pass the Uniform Time Act. It codified daylight saving time, although it has been periodically modified, particularly the start and end dates.
Ultimately, the goal of DST has been to conserve energy with more daylight during the hours when most people are active, although some studies have found little energy savings.
Daylight saving time could pose health risks, studies show
Studies have shown that there may be a health benefit to getting rid of daylight saving time altogether.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, people may benefit from eliminating the time change, according to a position statement published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine last summer.
The AASM contended that a switch to permanent standard time would put a stop to what they called dangerous impacts that have been correlated to daylight saving time.
"The position statement also cites evidence of increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, cardiovascular events, and mood disturbances following the annual ‘spring forward’ to daylight saving time," the statement said.
The statement also included studies that showed evidence of increased traffic fatalities, as much as 6%, within the first few days following the change to daylight saving time.
"There is ample evidence of the negative, short-term consequences of the annual change to daylight saving time in the spring," said AASM President Dr. Kannan Ramar. "Because the adoption of permanent standard time would be beneficial for public health and safety, the AASM will be advocating at the federal level for this legislative change."
Other highlighted short-term negative impacts that daylight saving time can have on human health include a range of ailments, like an increased risk of stroke, increased production of inflammatory markers, stress and overall loss of sleep.
According to another study, losing one hour of sleep raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25%, compared to other Mondays during the year.
Dr. Amneet Sandhu studied 42,000 hospital admissions and found that an average of 32 patients had heart attacks on any given Monday. But on the Monday after moving the clock forward, there was an average of eight additional heart attacks.
How to deal with time change
This means the switch to daylight saving time shouldn’t be taken lightly. Developing a plan to cope with the time change can reduce its impact on your sleep and overall wellness.
The Sleep Foundation has several tips for preparing your body for the sudden change:
- Gradually adjust your schedule: You can get ready to "spring forward" in March by gradually shifting your schedule in the week leading up to the time change. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises trying to slowly adjust your schedule by going to bed around 15-20 minutes earlier each day.
- Sleep well beforehand: Obtaining quality sleep in the nights leading up to the time change is important, as well. If you enter the daylight saving weekend already sleep-deprived, it’s more likely you’ll have negative effects in response to the time change, according to the Sleep Foundation.
- Consider relaxation techniques: Relaxation methods, including basic deep breathing and mindfulness meditation, can bring calm to your mind and body and make it easier to smoothly transition into sleep.
- Set your clocks before bed: Although the time change doesn’t officially occur until 2 a.m., set your watch and household clocks to the new time before you go to bed. This may help lower your stress and avoid any timing mishaps on Sunday.
- Prioritize daylight exposure: Finding time for daylight exposure on the days following the change can help your body’s internal clock acclimate to the new time. For example, make a plan to go outside, ideally in the morning, and receive sun exposure on the Sunday after the time change. If you live in a cold climate that makes being outside difficult, open your curtains and sit near a window to take in a meaningful dose of natural light.
- Take extra precautions: Try not to overload your schedule on the Sunday or Monday after the time shift in case you end up experiencing daytime sleepiness. If possible, schedule important meetings or events for later in the week when you’ve had more time to adjust. It’s also best to avoid long drives right after the time change because of the potential dangers of drowsy driving.
- Eat a healthy diet: Although no single diet has been proven to be the best for sleep, balanced diets made up of lots of fruits and vegetables tend to provide the nutrients the body needs and have been associated with better sleep. Other ways to prevent food-related sleep disruptions include eating dinner at least a few hours before going to bed, limiting consumption of heavy and spicy foods in the evening and being mindful of caffeine in beverages.
- Take a nap if necessary: If you find yourself tired in the days after switching to daylight saving time, a short nap may prove beneficial. Keeping a nap under 30 minutes can boost your alertness while reducing grogginess after waking up.
Which states do not observe daylight saving time?
DST is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation).
Other countries observe this time change as well, though many mistakenly think of it as uniquely American.
TimeandDate.com reported that there are different countries around the world that observe DST. Among them are Albania, Greece, Fiji, Egypt, Denmark, and Bulgaria.
Will US get rid of daylight saving time?
Last year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio renewed his call for the entire nation to save daylight all year round. It would have made daylight saving time permanent across the country. Several other states have voiced their support or opposition to daylight saving time. But any change can’t take effect unless Congress changes federal law.
At least seven state legislatures have backed asking Congress to allow year-round daylight saving time in the past few years — and about 60% of California voters supported a ballot proposition in 2018 calling for such a move.
A 2019 survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed 4 in 10 Americans would like to see their clocks stay on standard time year-round, while about 3 in 10 prefer to stay on daylight saving time. About another 3 in 10 prefer what is the status quo in most of the United States, switching back and forth between daylight saving time in the summer and standard time in the winter.
FILE IMAGE - A view of The Statue of Liberty during the first sunset after the clocks changed for Daylight Savings as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge on March 14, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
The AASM conducted a survey in July of 2,007 adults in the U.S., asking if they would support the elimination of daylight saving time.
According to the survey, 63% supported eliminating seasonal time changes and were in favor of a national, fixed, year-round time.
Additionally, a poll conducted by the Associated Press in 2019 found that 7 in 10 Americans prefer not to switch back and forth to mark daylight saving time.
According to the poll, 4 in 10 Americans would like to see their clocks stay on standard time year-round, while about 3 in 10 prefer to stay on daylight saving time. About another 3 in 10 prefer what is the status quo in most of the U.S., switching back and forth between daylight saving time in the summer and standard time in the winter.
The FOX TV Digital Team and the Associated Press contributed to this story.