Using knowledge of sleep science to affect public policy: Daylight saving time

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One of the APA Intro Psych key themes is “Applying psychological principles can change our lives, organizations, and communities in positive ways” (APA Introductory Psychology Initiative, 2021). In this post, I suggest a way that students can use what they have learned in their Intro Psych course to try to affect public policy.

Daylight saving time is back on the minds of the members of the U.S. Congress. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has updated their (freely available) position statement on the matter (Rishi et al., 2023), and the National Sleep Foundation has issued their own (freely available) position statement (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.). For this assignment, students in the U.S. will write a letter to their U.S. senators and U.S. representative. Students in Canada will write a letter to their member of Parliament. Students may send the letter if they choose, but it is not a requirement for this assignment. Their letters may urge their recipients to vote either for or against abolishing daylight saving time. While the Canadian lawmakers appear to be content to wait on the United States to make this decision (Gollom, 2023), Canadians can still ask their members of Parliament to make the change. Mexico, on the other hand, did away with daylight saving time in 2022 (Time and Date, n.d.).

In this assignment, we will practice writing a letter to our members of Congress or Parliament using what we have learned in this course. For the purpose of this assignment, you are not required to send your letter. However, if you feel strongly about this issue, I encourage you to send it.

  1. Identify your members of Congress (senator and representative) or Parliament and their email and mailing addresses.
  2. Use the “Writing Letters to Elected Officials” webpage provided by the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas to create the framework for your letter (Chapter 33. Conducting a Direct Action Campaign | Section 1. Writing Letters to Elected Officials, n.d.).
    1. Provide a respectful and professional opening
    2. Explain the purpose for writing, e.g., you are interested in doing away with or keeping daylight saving time
    3. Summarize your understanding, e.g., what impact do you expect that doing with or keeping daylight saving time will have. This may be as simple as, “My understanding is that abolishing daylight saving time will mean no longer changing our clocks twice a year.”
    4. Explain your position. Identify at least three pieces of scientific evidence that supports your position on daylight saving time. You may use information from the AASM position statement, your textbook, your instructor, or peer reviewed scientific articles. For each piece of evidence, cite your source.
    5. Describe the impact that abolishing or keeping daylight saving time will have on you personally. Tell a story about how abolishing or keeping daylight saving time will affect you.
    6. Provide statistics on how many people will be positively affected by abolishing or keeping daylight saving time. For example, you may want to research the number of people affected by sleep deprivation.
    7. If the person you are writing to has expressed support in the past for your position, acknowledge it.
    8. If your letter argues for keeping daylight saving time, suggest at least one alternative for how at least one issue associated with daylight saving time may be addressed.
    9. Ask how you can help abolish or keep daylight saving time.
    10. Lastly, thank them for their time. Sign off with your name, email address, mailing address, and phone number.

 

References

APA Introductory Psychology Initiative. (2021). APA Introductory Psychology Initiative student learning outcomes for Introductory Psychology. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/about/policy/introductory-psychology-initiative-student-outcomes.pdf

Chapter 33. Conducting a direct action campaign | Section 1. Writing letters to elected officials. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-elected-officials/main

Gollom, M. (2023, March 11). Is time running out on changing clocks twice a year? U.S. Sunshine Protection Act may hold key. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/daylight-time-u-s-canada-1.6775291

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Permanent standard time: A position statement from the National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://www.thensf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NSF-Position-on-Permanent-Standard-Time_3.22.2021....

Rishi, M. A., Cheng, J. Y., Strang, A. R., Sexton-Radek, K., Ganguly, G., Licis, A., Berneking, M. W., Bhui, R., Creamer, J., Kundel, V., Spector, A. R., Olaoye, O., Hashmi, S. D., Abbasi-Feinberg, F., Abreu, A. R., Gurubhagavatula, I., Kapur, V. K., Kuhlmann, D., Martin, J., … Sullivan, S. (2023). Permanent standard time is the optimal choice for health and safety: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, jcsm.10898. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.10898

Time and Date. (n.d.). Daylight saving time 2023 in México, Mexico. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://www.timeanddate.com/time/change/mexico/mexico

 

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.