Fall back: How daylight saving time can seriously affect your health

CHICAGO (AP) -- Brunch dates and flag football games might be a little easier to get to this Sunday, when phones grace early-risers with an extra hour of rest before alarm clocks go off.

The downside: Next week across most of the U.S., the sun will set well before many folks step foot out of the office, leaving them to run errands or take walks in utter darkness. Come Nov. 5, daylight saving time is out and standard time is in, and will last until March 10.

No need to wait till the midnight hour to prepare for the time change that clocks in early Sunday, when 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m. Before bed beckons Saturday night, rewind the clock on the microwave, oven, car, or any other device not yet clever enough to make the leap on its own.

Besides scheduling stumbles and sleep habit disruptions, experts say the twice-yearly ritual can have more serious effects on human health.

Many Americans are already sleep-deprived, and a change in time messes with sleep schedules even more, says Dr. Phyllis Zee, a sleep researcher at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, although she says "falling back" and gaining an extra hour is generally easier on the body than "springing forward" and losing one.

Chronic sleep deprivation can increase levels of stress hormones that boost heart rate and blood pressure, and of chemicals that trigger inflammation, research suggests.

"Just that one hour can change the amount of sleep you get, the quality of sleep that you get," Zee said. Off-kilter sleep can affect people's ability to multitask, stay alert, and even maintain their balance, making them more prone to accidents.

Molly Hart, spokeswoman for AAA's Auto Club Group, warned that there may be an uptick in accidents on the road following the time change.

"With daylight savings coming to an end, what people really need to be focused on is their driving now in the afternoon when it's darker earlier," and when they may be feeling drowsy, she said.

Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time.

Some members of Congress have pushed to end the back-and-forth and make daylight saving time permanent.

The U.S. Senate in March 2022 passed a bipartisan bill named the Sunshine Protection Act, but it stalled in the House. The bill was re-introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio in March of this year, then referred to committee, where it has remained idle.

Daylight Savings Time officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, (2023) – when clocks "Fall Back" one hour and we move more daylight into the morning hours for what's known as "standard time."

We will be living with dark afternoons until March 10, 2024 when DST starts again. It will end on Nov. 3, 2024.

Under federal law, Daylight Saving Time (DST), officially begins the second Sunday in March and runs through the first Sunday in November.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, Daylight Saving Time (DST) was inspired by Benjamin Franklin's "An Economical Project," – a satirical piece written in 1784.

A more serious take on DST picked up steam during World War I when Germans adopted similar measures to help with the war effort. The U.S. soon followed but repealed the law after the war ended – only to see it reestablished by Congress – during World War II due to enormous energy consumption.

That time change became law in 1966 – when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, establishing the start and end times within standard time zones. The policy, regulated by the Department of Transportation, aims to save energy, reduce traffic fatalities, and also help reduce crime.

In 1973 President Richard Nixon signed into law the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act which made DST permanent in the U.S. In 2005, the Uniform Time Act tweaked that schedule by setting the start of DST to the second Sunday of March and the end on the first Sunday of November lengthening the duration of DST.