I am an eighth grader at Gruening Middle School. This year, my social studies class is taking part in a program called Project Citizen. During Project Citizen, each class is asked to identify a major issue in Alaska, brainstorm a solution and its alternatives, and ultimately create a public policy. This program engages students in the process of public policy and gives them an opportunity to make a change where they live.
My class chose Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as our Project Citizen issue. SAD is a type of depression that is influenced by the changing seasons. Due to the long, dark winters, this condition affects nearly 10% of our state community. It’s not uncommon for Alaska residents to at least consider moving out of the state for these reasons.
The solution that my class came up with was that Alaska should opt out of Daylight Saving Time (DST). A Danish study revealed that the initial three weeks after changing the clocks brings an 11% increase in depressions like SAD. Every time we gain or lose an hour, it throws the body’s circadian rhythm off balance. The circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that gives you a sense of when to do things, like when to wake up or eat. This system is developed after months of routine. People with SAD can’t afford to waste the energy adapting their circadian rhythm a whole hour. The one-hour time change not only affects depression, but is also responsible for an increase in injuries and other health issues. The few weeks after DST brings a spike in road accidents, heart attacks, and even miscarriages. Overall, DST has no place in Alaska and should not continue to exist here.
Our class policy has shown great promise with Alaskans thus far. The petition we made for support of getting rid of DST in Alaska has gotten more than 200 signatures in three days. You can visit this petition online at Change.org. If you agree with our cause, I request that you show your support by signing our petition.
— Mary Bidinger
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