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World Sleep Day cofounder disagrees with Senate's Daylight Saving Time change

Dr. Antonio Culebras, wearing a white lab coat and blue shirt, standing in front of a wall monitor with a "UPDATE ON SLEEP DISORDERS 2022" on it.
Upstate Medical University
Dr. Antonio Culebras is a neurologist and sleep expert at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and a co-founder of World Sleep Day.

A central New York sleep expert is on board with a vote in the U.S. Senate this week to get rid of the twice-a-year seasonal time changes, but there is one key disagreement with the Senate’s approach.

Dr. Antonio Culebras, a neurologist at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, is a co-founder of World Sleep Day, which is Friday. And before getting into the issues of Daylight Saving Time, he stresses one thing many people don’t consider.

“Sleep is one of the pillars of health along with a balanced diet and regular exercise,” Culebras said. “If you don’t sleep well, you won’t be healthy."

That means 7-9 hours of sleep a night. That sleep can be interrupted when we switch between Daylight Saving Time and standard time.

So Culbras is in favor of the country abandoning the time changes. However, the Senate voted to keep Daylight Saving Time permanent, which tilts more daylight later in the day. Culebras disagrees with that.

He said standard time is best for our bodies, because it jives with our intrinsic circadian rhythm.

“Standard time keeps daylight on until let's say 8 p.m., and that’s very reasonable,” he said. “If you go to bed three hours later, by then your brain has not been stimulated by all that night and the following morning at 4:30 or 5 a.m., light starts showing up and your brain will be stimulated and you’ll be ready to go."

The debate continues, as the House of Representatives and President need to be on board before any changes are made. And in the meantime, Culebras suggests anyone having trouble going to sleep, check out the Ten Sleep Commandments, which begin with setting a consistent bed time and awakening time.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.