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Lawmaker hopes upcoming daylight savings will be Tennessee's last

March 7th, 2014 9:34 pm by Tony Casey

Lawmaker hopes upcoming daylight savings will be Tennessee's last

When Tennesseans spring ahead this weekend, it could be the last time they change clocks.

That is, if a bill sponsored by state Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, goes through. Todd’s bill calls for the state to stay on daylight saving time all year round. As usual, people are advised to set their clocks ahead one hour as the time change goes into affect at 2 a.m. Sunday. If the bill is written into law, it would be the last time adjustments would be made and no more clock changes would occur.

The bill was originally set to be voted on late this month, but has since been delayed.

A representative said although that’s not a good sign, he said the bill is still “healthy.” The biggest, and only complaint against the bill, Todd’s representative said, was children in rural areas who might be waiting for a school bus on two-lane highways in the dark, which could be a potentially dangerous situation. He said safety is a No. 1 concern of Todd’s office, and they’ve looked into the matter. Only time will tell if it has the momentum to move forward.

Changing the clocks traditionally come a small cost, in the way of sleep patterns, especially those in certain age ranges.

“If you are well-rested, even an hour change in your routine can leave you feeling temporarily sleep-deprived. If you are already sleep-deprived, the one hour just compounds the problem,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Lee conducts research on sleep patterns over the life cycle, and how sleep patterns and the need for sleep vary by age.

At a recent forum held on sleep, Lee emphasized the benefits of quality sleep patterns, even during time changes. She said if you have sound sleep habits, it shouldn’t take very long for you to adjust to daylight saving time. A fixed bedtime and time to awake, even on weekends, only using your bed for sleeping, no napping during the day, keeping a dark and cool sleeping space, and avoidance of electronics leading up to bedtime, should make things move smoothly, she said.

Those who don’t have the most optimum sleep patterns, Lee said, could suffer from a dangerous performance hindrance. Being awake for 18 hours straight effects performance to the same level as carrying a blood alcohol level of .05 percent and .10 BAC for someone who’s gone 24 hours without sleep. Research shows that fatigue caused by a lack of sleep is believed to account for about half of all motor vehicle accidents.

Age comes into play because many younger and older people tend to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, where as those in between often go to bed later and sleep in later.

This situation could be exacerbated in the classroom, Lee said, where research shows students to be most effective in terms of alertness around 10 a.m., which would extend classes into the evening, much different than, perhaps, a teacher’s schedule, where they would be alert a few hours earlier and be ready to leave school by the late afternoon. This, Lee said, could explain why teen years can sometimes be difficult, with high school and college as prime times for the students’ schedule not matching with older adults’ patterns.

“We are creating sleep deprivation that leads to moodiness and aggressiveness,” Lee said.

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