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'It's Impacting Our Health;' Sleep Scientists Back Abolishing Daylight Saving Time

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Early Sunday morning, at 2 a.m. to be precise, clocks will spring forward an hour to mark the start of Daylight saving time along with the debate over whether it is wise to continue changing the clocks twice a year.

University of California San Francisco sleep expert Dr. Kin Yuen, among a group of scientists who think it's time to get rid of daylight savings. warns losing an hour of sleep could impact your health.

"Well, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports adopting standard time, year-round. One of the reasons is that we all lose an hour sleep when we spring forward," said Yuen. "And this is really hard to do because our biological clocks do not support that. It generally takes us four or five days to get used to that one hour's time change. There are a lot more traffic accidents that occur Sunday, Monday And when we lose an hour sleep, we tend to not be able to focus very well. We cannot concentrate too well. And some people just get plain irritable when they don't have enough sleep."

Yuen spoke in an interview with KPIX 5 News producer Molly McCrea.

Dr. Kin Yuen:
"We definitely want to support the position of adopting standard time, rather than daylight saving time. We definitely want to minimize the time change, "spring your forward, fall back" because that's very disruptive for biological rhythm. Just when you think you've got it down to a science, then things change. And that just makes it impossible. Definitely talk to your local legislators, write them, lobby to keep daylight saving time away, uh, because it's impacting our health."

KPIX 5 News producer Molly McCrea:
"Do we know if there are any long-term health effects with this "springing forward and falling back" over the years? Has anybody ever looked at that? "

Yuen:
"Yes one of our really dedicated colleagues have done research, looking into the number of heart attacks, for instance, that compare when we spring forward to when we fall back; and discovered that the number of heart attacks increase during when we "spring forward" and we don't see such an increase when we "fall back". "

McCrea:
"Who is going to have the toughest time with this time change and why? "

Yuen:
"Yeah, I think teenagers are going to have a really difficult time because their internal clocks along with all the hormonal changes that occur during teenage years cause them to have a longer day. And imagine if your internal clock runs on 24 hours and 45 minutes each night.  You may fall asleep at midnight. The next night, it will be closer to one o'clock the night after it be closer to three o'clock. And so, to help them move entire hour earlier, the bodies do not wish to do so. And therefore, I think they suffer the most with the time change.

McCrea:
"If you're the parent of a teenager, what do you advise them to do to help their child?"

Yuen:
"Yeah, as much as possible anticipation. And so rather than taking four or five days to adapt to that one hour's time change, they may take longer. And to the extent that we can support them, ask them to limit the social media exposure during the nighttime, uh, potentially help them go to sleep maybe even the week before or the week before that 15 minutes early and slowly edge their schedules forward to an early a time period so that they can wake up doing the morning hours Unfortunately, that still may be difficult for their teens that are so sleep deprived that if they are in what we call deep sleep or Stage N3 Sleep. They literally cannot hear the alarm. And therefore, there is no way that they are able to get up earlier than what's scheduled. And so I think it's very difficult process. But the teenagers who are active, who are able to get up, let's say for a run or stretch or do jumping jacks in the morning, that would help them a little bit more. And if they can do this in sunlight That would be helpful as well. And no matter what, try to eat something or drink a smoothie, which is very often while I advised them to do. So all those cues, adding sunlight, eating and exercise would definitely reinforce that message to the brain and plus take it more gradual gradually then the older adults may have to do.

McCrea:
"Any tips you could give our viewers as to how to make this transition that's going to occur easier to handle?"

Yuen:
"So since we can anticipate this on a yearly basis, definitely try to, as best we can, go to sleep 15, 20 minutes earlier and try to get up 15, 20 minutes earlier and having bright light when we get up, if there is no such availability in the residence, then perhaps some of the artificial lighting can be helpful that emit the white spectrum or blue spectrum light in the morning. We definitely want to stay away from the blue spectrum light around the evening time and do something that will help us adopt to the new clock a little bit better. and by all means, stay away from the snooze button if possible, because all that is going to do is break up your sleep. And so set your alarm for the time desired, but don't set it, you know, with on the repeat pattern because that is going to disrupt your last REM cycle, the dream cycle.when we need that for concentration, for motor activities, again, eating, walking, taking a walk during the daytime would be helpful. I often suggest do not schedule your heavy hitter meetings on that Monday or Tuesday for that matter and practice self-care right and do as much as we can to ease the stress. that can arise from the lack of sleep. "

Sleep scientists tell us humans and animals are both guided by biological clocks known as circadian rhythm. These are 24 hour cycles regulate not only our sleep but other key bodily functions. Many scientists who study these cycles support using standard time.

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