Should we stop changing the clock? Lawmakers debate making daylight saving time permanent

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 2:07 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are spending time on a bill to stop the changing of the clock. Yet some sleep experts believe the idea of making daylight saving time permanent could have its pro’s and con’s.

Senate lawmakers passed the Sunshine Protection Act in March. The bill is still awaiting action in the House.

The bipartisan bill is driven by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and has the backing of Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Markey’s office believes most people in America want to stop changing the clocks. His office also believes it will help the economy and the climate as more people are encouraged to spend time outside.

“Daylight savings time in the evening just makes it possible for people to be walking on sunshine,” said Markey, “ makes it more likely that they’re going to go out and exercise, go shopping, and so it’s something that people want to have happen in our country.”

Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, a contractor for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, believes it is wise to stop changing the clock.

“We know that changing the clocks is not helpful in general for us as a society. We see all these negative health effects that pop up right after the time change especially in the spring when we lose an hour of sleep. And so, we are all for abandoning these time changes” said Flynn-Evans.

Flynn-Evans said the time can change contribute to low productivity, increased car accidents, and negative health effects such as heart attacks.

However, Flynn-Evans said the American Academy of Sleep Medicine endorses a permanent standard time over daylight saving. She said standard time is better aligned with our bodies and the sun.

“We don’t actually get any more light during daylight saving time. In the summer, we just have more light in general because of the way that the earth is tilted. And so, in daylight saving time the big consequence that nobody talks about is that in the winter we would just shift the timing of when we have to wake up and so sunrise would happen really late. And, that’s where we get negative mood effects,” she said.

Flynn-Evans added young people such as teenagers, who have to wake up early for school, could feel the most negative effects of a permanent daylight saving time.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio spoke on the floor of the Senate following the passage of the Sunshine Protection Act in March. In part, he outlined benefits of daylight saving time. He said in part, “for example, reduced crime as there’s light later in the day. We’ve seen decreases in child obesity. A decrease in seasonal depression that many feel during standard time. And then the practical one, one that I’ve witnessed with my own eyes…. We’re a country [in which] we desperately want our kids to be outside, to be playing, to be doing sports, not just to be sitting in front of a TV or a computer terminal or playing video games all day.”

If the House takes action on the bill and approves it, permanent daylight saving would begin next year across the country.

In 2018, Rubio’s office said Florida legislature enacted year-round daylight saving time. Yet that legislation cannot apply without a change in the federal statute.

His office said “nineteen other states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, resolutions, or voter initiatives, and dozens more are looking to do so. If passed by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Sunshine Protection Act would apply to those states that currently participate in DST, which most states observe for eight months out of the year. States and territories that currently remain on Standard Time year-around would continue to do so.”

Learn more information about the bill here.

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