A Station for Everyone
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Don't forget to turn your clocks back Sunday. It could be the last time you do it

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you can just make it to this weekend, you get an extra hour of sleep.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Daylight saving time ends. And the clocks go back. For some people working bad hours, this is a relief. For others, it's an adjustment. And, of course, for all of us, sunset abruptly comes one hour sooner.

MARTIN: Florida Senator Marco Rubio is ready to be done with that early sunset. His Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate in March.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: We don't have to keep doing this stupidity anymore. And why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me. But hopefully this is the year that this gets done. And pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.

MARTIN: If the bill becomes law, we would stay on daylight saving time after switching back to it next spring. Rubio says that should lead to fewer accidents during the evening rush hour, which will take place more often in daylight. It also gives kids longer to play outside before dark.

INSKEEP: But the bill has yet to pass the House, which is hearing from scientists with a different view. Dr. Karin Johnson is a neurologist and director of the Sleep Medicine program at Baystate Health in Springfield, Mass.

KARIN JOHNSON: So a lot of the arguments are using short-term data of what happens around the time of clock change, but are not what happens when you go permanently to one time or the other.

INSKEEP: Suppose you looked past those disorienting first days after the time switch. Researchers looked at the health effects of people who live on daylight saving time longer term.

JOHNSON: We also see with that hour-later sunrise and sunsets about 9% more cancers in men and 12% more cancers in women. We see increased obesity rates about 10 to even up to 30% higher when you're - have those later sunrises and sunsets. So it affects a lot of different, special cardiovascular and other medical conditions.

MARTIN: It goes like this - when your circadian rhythm isn't aligned with sunlight, it affects hormones connected with good health. So Dr. Johnson agrees with Senator Rubio that switching back and forth is not ideal, but does offer the opposite solution.

JOHNSON: So I'd like to see permanent standard time because it is best aligned with our bodies' rhythm. And that just makes life a little easier. When we're aligned with our rhythms, we can sleep easier. We can think easier. We can wake up easier. And all those things lead to better health.

MARTIN: And there's one more thing. She says daylight time's especially hard on many lower-income workers, the people who are up early to pick up the trash, open the store, start a long commute or make the doughnuts.

JOHNSON: If we go to permanent daylight savings time, we're going to increase structural disparities. And this is not what we want to do. So we really want to go to permanent standard time for the workers, to make people's lives a little bit easier.

INSKEEP: At least for now, this discussion is hypothetical. As Congress debates, we have two more days on daylight time and then the extra hour Sunday morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE WERKS' "INTO THE MOSS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.