More productivity or “zombie” students? Congress mulls permanent DST, but sleep experts say they’ve reversed it


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As a member of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab at Venice High School near Los Angeles, Zoe Woodrick often stays in school after 5 p.m. to record podcasts and videos.

When his interviews are late in the winter months, the sun is already setting over the Pacific, less than two miles away. Her drive home takes at least 20 minutes through “busy, chaotic streets”, and she doesn’t feel safe taking shortcuts in the alleyways.

“It can be boring when it’s dark and I’m walking home, or if I have to wait for someone to pick me up, I feel uncomfortable standing there,” said the student from ninth year. “If it’s still daylight, that’s a positive for me.”

Zoe Woodrick, a freshman at Venice High School in California, sometimes stays late at school to work on podcasts and videos for her school’s Student Reporting Lab. (Courtesy of Zoe Woodrick)

Woodrick, like many teenagers, says permanent daylight saving time would fit better into his busy life and dismisses worries about getting up for school in the dark. And if the U.S. House of Representatives embraces the idea as enthusiastically as the Senate, the nation could soon see the end of its annual front/back spring ritual.

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On March 15, the Senate unanimously adopted the Sun Protection Lawwhich would take effect in November 2023. Proponents, including the bill’s sponsor, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, say the change would reduce crime, prevent childhood obesity and boost the economy. Patty Murray, chair of education for the Senate, from Washington, expressed her enthusiasm during a radio program in November.

“It’s crazy that every fall we interrupt everyone’s sleep schedule,” she said. “No one knows what time it is for weeks after that, and it gets dark at 4:30 a.m. [p.m.] in my condition.

It is unclear how quickly the House will pass the bill. Following an energy and trade sub-committee audience earlier this month, Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the full committee, said he hopes lawmakers can soon “put an end to the stupidity of the current system.” But some members, including Representative Pramila Jayapal – also from Washington – don’t appear like some that permanent daylight saving time is the way to go.

Dave Dougherty, executive director of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, said he hoped the Chamber would take more time to consider other prospects.

“One of the biggest challenges is kids who are overtired and haven’t rested enough,” he said. “It’s complicated. It’s more than just a solution.

Sleep researchers agree it makes sense to end the biannual clock adjustment, but disagree on how: Teenagers, they say, need more light from the day in the morning, not in the evening – the reason why there was a push in recent years to start secondary school later. The United States tried permanent daylight saving time in the 1970s to save energy, but later scrapped the law because people didn’t like to get up before sunrise.

“We can change the time of day, but our internal clocks still react to morning light,” said Wendy Troxel, a behavioral and social scientist and sleep medicine specialist at RAND Corp. She said the Senate did not consider research to make their decision. “Continued Golf and summer barbecues sound delicious, but think December.

At puberty, adolescents sleep cycles change. It’s harder for them to relax at 8 or 9 p.m., and they may not get sleepy until 10 or 11 p.m. enough sleep and some research shows black teens get less than their white peers. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to anxiety, anger and depression.

With reports that the pandemic has contributed to mental health problemsexperts say a permanent switch to standard time would be a healthier option.

“We will have a group of zombie people in the morning,” said Dr. Rafael Pelayo, sleep specialist and clinical professor at Stanford University, predicting the need for artificial light boxes, more warning signs at crossings for pedestrians and police in the streets. .


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The “ability to wake up”

Pelayo is a member of the board of directors of start school later, a national organization that advocates pushing back start times for older pupils to 8.30am – often an hour later than many secondary schools now start. Districts in 46 states made the switch and California moved on a lawwhich will come into effect this fall, which delays the start of school hours to at least 8 a.m. for middle school and 8:30 a.m. for high school.

Terra Ziporyn Snider, the organization’s executive director, said it’s likely more states could follow California’s lead if the bill becomes law. This session’s legislation is about to be new York Govt. Kathy Hochul and was introduced in Tennessee and Connecticut.

Studies show “modest” academic benefits pushing start times back to at least 8:30 a.m., Troxel said, and giving teenagers more time to nap already has bipartisan support. Rubio approved later start timesand progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted she’s still mad that her high school’s trigonometry and pre-calculus class started at 7:20 a.m.

But year-round daylight saving time “would work against late school start times,” especially in parts of the country’s north and west of time zones, where the sun rises later, it said. Dr. Beth Malow, professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University.


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“I honestly think lawmakers don’t understand that,” Malow said. “Children will go to school in the dark. It affects their adequate sleep and their ability to wake up and be alert for school.

The congressional push has yet to meet concerted opposition from educators or their advocates in Washington. The National PTA, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions and the National School Boards Association are supporting efforts to permanent standard time.

‘Another cup of coffee’

If the bill becomes law, students say they will adapt.

Sara Falluji, a high school student from Kentucky, said more light after school hours could improve students’ mental and physical health. (Courtesy of Sara Falluji)

Sara Falluji, a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. Kentucky, thinks more light at night will benefit—and not harm—the mood of students.

“Students stay inside the school building for an average of seven to eight hours,” she said. “That means minimal time spent outdoors, which is really important for students’ mental and physical health.”

She also sees an advantage for young drivers. Driving to school before sunrise can help teenagers with learner’s permits clock in the required number of hours of nighttime driving, she said.

Generally, however, teenagers think about what they can do after school with more daylight.

Sophomore Raima Dutt, a high school golfer in Louisville, said her team needs to rush into practice before it gets dark. (Courtesy of Raima Dutt)

Raima Dutt, another college student from Kentucky, plays golf, a fall sport. She agreed that she would prefer to have more light at the end of the day.

“As the season progresses, we have to rush our practices and our games to finish before sunset,” said the second at duPont Manual High School in Louisville. She added that the darkness at dinnertime made her feel rushed in the evening.

Devin Walton, who is on the track team at South High in Torrance, Calif., said he had no trouble staying alert during his first period. (Courtesy of Krystal Walton)

Devin Walton, a ninth-grader at South High School in Torrance, Calif., loves science and said he had no trouble paying attention to biology, his first class of the day. He is also a runner and has track and field competitions that can stretch into the early evening.

“I would feel the pressure to leave work and rush home to make sure he doesn’t ride his bike or come home in the dark,” his mother Krystal Walton said. “I feel like it’s only an hour. We could make one more cup of coffee.


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