Daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning — as the bi-annual practice of changing our clocks continues to divide the U.S.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill in March to make DST permanent. But sleep experts say standard time is better for human circadian biology, and they are urging U.S. lawmakers to ditch DST for good.
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“Standard time, it’s just easier for us,” Dr. Akinbolaji Akingbola, a sleep medicine specialist at the University of Minnesota, told Insider. “Because we have more sunlight in the morning, it’s easier for us to wake up. Then it’s darker in the evening, it’s easier for us to go to sleep.”
On Saturday night, Americans (except in Hawaii and Arizona) will set their clocks back one hour to wake up with more sunlight and an earlier sunset.
The U.S. appears to be divided over the change. A 2019 Associated Press poll found 31% of Americans are in favor of a permanent move to DST, while 40% prefer standard time year-round. Around 28% voted to keep the status quo.
Research supports both positions. Studies have shown that car accidents, strokes and heart attacks rise when the U.S. jumps forward in the spring as it switches to DST.
But the new collision study published in the Current Biology journal estimated that some 36,550 deer deaths, 33 human fatalities and 2,054 human injuries could be prevented annually by adopting DST year-round.
Researchers found that deer-vehicle collisions are 14 times more likely in the two hours after sunset versus the two hours before sunset. Nighttime traffic and deer-vehicle collisions are more frequent during standard time, they say.
DST would allow for more light during peak traffic hours, leading to less crashes, which would save the U.S. an estimated $1.2 billion annually in collision costs, according to the study.
Several lawmakers hope to make DST permanent.
The Sunshine Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and unanimously approved by the Senate in March 2022, awaits action from the House.
If the bipartisan legislation is approved and signed by President Biden, the law would not take effect until the fall of 2023 since airlines, railroads and other mass transit operators have created schedules based on the current timekeeping system.