The national drive for permanent daylight saving time is gaining traction.
The more Maryland Del. Brian M. Crosby thought about the sluggish, discombobulated anguish of transitioning to daylight saving time, the more absurd it appeared.
“To be honest, I’ve always loathed changing my clock,” he admitted. “I’m sure you do if you sit down and think about it.” What motivates us to do this? Do you have any children? “Do you enjoy waking your children up early?”
So Crosby (D-St. Mary’s) led Maryland into a national discussion that expanded to Congress and legislatures in 41 of the 48 states that use daylight saving time in only four years. Crosby got permission from the Virginia House of Delegates last month, which decided to permanently alter daylight so that an extra hour of sunshine falls in the afternoon year-round – subject to federal approval.
The national push to make daylight saving time permanent brings together unexpected bedfellows who believe Americans can overcome political divisions to abandon the century-old habit of changing our clocks. The time change has been related to an increase in everything from heart attacks and miscarriages to deadly road accidents and job injuries, according to research. However, controversy rages about whether it is healthy to remove daylight saving time or to make it year round.
Most proposals, including Crosby’s, advocate permanently implementing daylight saving time in order to shift sunlight later in the day, a trend that alarms sleep experts who fear long-term health problems will arise if the country permanently disconnects our schedules from our natural circadian clocks. According to one research, our bodies never adjust to daylight saving time, causing us to lose 19 minutes of sleep every night until regular time is restored.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have enacted measures to implement year-round daylight saving time if Congress allows it. Another 22 are thinking about it this year.
“It wasn’t anything I went around the halls trying to garner votes for,” Crosby explained. “People are aware of it, and it makes sense.”
The ideas sometimes call for states to move in unison — for example, New England or the Mid-Atlantic area — jointly springing forward in March and never falling back in September. Other states, including as Florida, would make the permanent changeover if the federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 were altered to enable it.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), who agree on almost nothing else, have co-sponsored legislation to allow states to permanently reset clocks to daylight saving time.
The debate over time change has raged for decades, but after Florida approved its law in 2019, dominoes began to fall, according to Scott Yates, a major lock-the-clock supporter from Colorado. The epidemic accelerated the march.
“It’s like every other issue: there’s a tipping point when it’s suddenly right, that’s what we should do,” Yates explained. “The epidemic made us think about happiness and how essential day-to-day mental health is, and we should do everything we can to encourage it.”
“Coming off of covid with folks cooped up the way that they are, people want the extra hour of sunshine,” said state Rep. Kurt Vail, who has been advocating for the change since 2010. (R).
Yates feels that the topic is so powerful right now that it can sway people who have been turned off by the poison of current politics. He began a congressional campaign this month on the promise of “solving” daylight saving time, believing that it is the ideal subject to re-engage an indifferent populace that has ceased voting.
“Why don’t we speak about the topics on which we can all agree?” “Daylight savings time is the ideal subject for that,” said Yates, a Democrat running in a crowded primary to replace Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in the fall. “It’s understandable; it has an impact on your everyday life, it has a remedy, and it’s not being implemented.”
The government instituted daylight saving time a century ago, and not, according to common belief, to aid farmers. In 1918, the United States joined European countries in resetting the clocks to save gasoline during the nighttime hours and, as historian Michael Downing writes in his book “Spring Forward,” to offer consumers more daylight.
Clock-switching was abandoned — partially because farmers despised it — and then revived as an energy-saving tactic during World War II. Local governments had the authority to establish the local time until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 regulated daylight saving time. There was craziness: Iowa had 23 separate daylight saving time dates at one point.
Since daylight saving time was introduced in 1966, Congress has steadily increased it from six to eight months. During an energy crisis in 1974, the country switched to year-round daylight saving time. It rapidly went out of favour as the country’s winter mornings became increasingly longer.
The case against making daylight saving time permanent
Yates, who owns a tech startup, began his public campaign to #locktheclock eight years ago when his wife argued that constant whining at the dinner table would not result in a solution. He is undecided about whether permanent daylight saving time or permanent standard time would be preferable, but the science makes it difficult to advocate for resetting the clocks twice a year.
“Imagine if you presented it today: ‘Hey, we’re going to do this thing where we change the clocks, and it’ll kill a lot of people or send them to the hospital, but we’ll get extra light in the afternoon?’ “It wouldn’t even pass the smell test,” he explained.
There is, in fact, a worldwide effort to abolish clock resets. According to timeanddate.com, roughly half of the 143 nations that have ever adopted daylight saving time have abandoned it.
According to an October study by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 75 percent of Americans despise the practise and would want to see it cease. Nonetheless, people are split – and vehemently so – about whether the country should have an early sunrise or a late sunset.
In the midst of a surge of legislation pushing for permanent daylight saving time, Jay Pea, a retired software engineer and self-described “enthusiast for circadian health,” created the California-based charity Save Standard Time.
Pea and his supporters say that if states wish to cease altering clocks, which his group enthusiastically supports, science and human nature mandate that the clock be set on standard time rather than an hour forward. The group cites a number of sleep studies that show the cumulative sleep impairments caused by disconnecting our everyday social activities from the position of the sun. They propose that our bodies’ cellular clocks cannot alter.
According to Save Standard Time, there are financial incentives to shift more daylight later in the day, when individuals have more spare time. For example, in 1986, a coalition of groups representing golf courses, the barbeque business, convenience shops, and amusement parks successfully petitioned Congress to begin daylight saving time four weeks earlier.
“History demonstrates that once the forced early awakening in dark, cold winter mornings is experienced, support for permanent DST flips into strong opposition,” Pea wrote in evidence to a Maryland committee. “Permanent DST has failed multiple times across the world; it was a catastrophic tragedy in the United States in 1974.”
School administrators have also been hesitant to welcome the change. The Anne Arundel County school system said it would leave children going to bus stops in the dark during the winter’s shortest days and confuse efforts to postpone school start hours, despite decades of evidence demonstrating that high-schoolers require extra sleep.
The Maryland law, which would take effect only if Washington, D.C., Virginia, and other Mid-Atlantic states passed identical legislation, has now been sent to the state Senate. It died there last year, without a vote in one of the legislature’s busiest committees, which was seeking to enact a broad climate change law at the time. Sen. Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll), the Senate sponsor, is hopeful that after two long cold winters, their colleagues would welcome an extra hour of sunshine in the afternoon all year.
“People are sick of the tyranny of leaving work when it’s dark outside,” he remarked. “Shouldn’t we keep daylight largely for when people can appreciate it?”