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Healthwatch 16: Doctor discusses permanent Daylight Saving Time

Lawmakers are pushing for Daylight Saving Time to be permanent, but some Geisinger doctors say there are health concerns that come along with that.

DANVILLE, Pa. — The Senate passed a bill last month called the Sunshine Protection Act to make Daylight Saving Time permanent nationwide starting next year.

Daylight Saving Time currently makes up about eight months of the year while we are in Standard Time for the rest of the year.

Dr. Anne Marie Morse is a pediatric neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Geisinger Medical Center. She says switching our clocks twice a year has led to an uptick in sleep deprivation and other health problems. Even so, Dr. Morse does not think permanent Daylight Saving Time is a good idea.

"We see an increase in motor vehicle accidents, a six percent increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents. We see an increased rate of hospitalizations, heart attack, stroke, mental health crisis," Dr. Morse said.

If Daylight Saving Time were in effect all year round, it would mean later sunrise times during the fall and winter.

"There's some parts of this country where sunrise will be around 9:30 a.m. That means that many people will be commuting to work, and kids will be going to school in complete darkness. Clearly, that's going to be something that is not beneficial for your mood, nor for safety."

Dr. Morse believes year-round Standard Time would be better for our minds and bodies.

"Which would put us better in alignment with what our normal circadian or day/night rhythms are."

The Sunshine Protection Act still needs approval from the House of Representatives and a signature from the president to become law.

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