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What you can do (starting now) to make the daylight saving transition a little easier

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Ready for the clocks to spring forward? Daylight saving time begins this Sunday, and that means many of us may miss out on some sleep as we lose an hour. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports on what you can do, beginning now, to make the transition a little easier and why there's a debate on Capitol Hill over whether to make daylight saving time permanent.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Daylight saving has a nice ring to it. And to spring forward? - that sounds kind of cheerful. But the truth is that our bodies really don't like the abrupt change. It can take us days to adjust to darker mornings. And as Jennifer Martin, the president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, explains, the shift to more light in the evening can leave us out of sync with our body's natural rhythms.

JENNIFER MARTIN: Human circadian rhythms are very closely linked to the rising and setting of the sun. And what happens with daylight savings (ph) time is our internal clock is not as well aligned with the rising and setting of the sun.

AUBREY: The potential benefits of daylight saving time may have more to do with the economy. Lawmakers in the Senate who have reintroduced a bill to make daylight saving time permanent point to an analysis that found, when clocks fall back in the fall, spending goes down, whereas more light in the evening, ushered in by the springtime change, can prompt people to go out more to shop or eat.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida says the twice-a-year clock change is stupid. He posted this message yesterday in support of his Sunshine Protection Act.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: We're one of the few countries on earth that continues to do this ritual of the springing forward and falling back and changing our clock twice a year. That makes no sense. It's time to end it.

AUBREY: Lots of people, including many scientists and doctors, agree that the time change is annoying and disruptive. But rather than making daylight saving time permanent, as lawmakers want to do, both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Medical Association support instead a move to permanent standard time to preserve morning light. Jennifer Martin and her sleep medicine colleagues have planned a trip to Capitol Hill in April.

MARTIN: One of the things that we want to talk with lawmakers about is we agree that abolishing seasonal time change is important, but the way to do that is to stay on standard time because light in the morning is what's really important here. That is what's best for long-term health.

AUBREY: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine points to a bunch of studies that show the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time is linked to more cardiovascular events, mood disorders and even more car crashes - something I learned firsthand when, last spring, just after the spring-forward clock change, I accidentally backed into my neighbor's car. I asked Martin if my fender bender was surprising.

MARTIN: No, you became part of the statistics. When we're sleep deprived, we don't do well. And, you know, I will share that I have a teenager, and I am not looking forward to getting him up for school on Monday morning.

AUBREY: To prepare for the time change, one strategy is to wind down a little earlier and minimize exposure to bright light at night. Also, on Saturday, try to wake up one hour earlier. This may help ease your transition.

Allison Aubrey, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Allison Aubrey is a correspondent for NPR News, where her stories can be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She's also a contributor to the PBS NewsHour and is one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.