Nov. 6 marked the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) for many nations across the globe and for the U.S. it may be the last time. Recent legislative efforts have been made towards cementing Daylight Saving Time and getting rid of the switch for good—and for the better.
The switch from Standard to Daylight Saving Time started during World War II in an effort to save energy and money on artificial lighting by shifting human activity. The sun would rise after 7 AM and set after 5 PM, aligning with the workday hours that were being established with the increase of urbanization and industrialization at the peak of the twentieth century. However, should the 2022 Sunshine Protection Act to make DST permanent in the U.S. were to get congressional approval and be enacted, for the first time in over 50 years, we may no longer have to deal with this mind and body-disrupting time change.
There are many advantages that can come with making DST permanent. After all, during the months of Daylight Saving Time, car accidents, crime and electricity use are reported to decrease. Additionally, people around the world appreciate how late the sun sets with more light to be enjoyed after work rather than before; the early 6 AM to 7 AM sunrise of Standard Time is wasted daylight, as the majority of the population is still asleep.
However, despite these benefits, Daylight Savings Time still has some flaws. Conversely, though DST does save some energy, the use of artificial heating and cooling in buildings has only increased since DST was implemented, as more light allows for humans to be out more, meaning that gas tends to be used more.
Whether the Sunshine Protection Act gets passed or not, our hours of activity will not be impacted, just how much sun is present during the hours we go outside. If anything, not much will change for most people since time zones themselves are manipulated and not even laid out perfectly according to the 15-degree longitude lines as they should be. For one, all of China is under Beijing Standard Time, even for the most western regions of the country thousands of miles away.
As a result, not all time zones are able to enjoy the extra hour of sun DST is supposed to give. Many cities near the western side of their respective time zones will not see the sunrise until 7 AM or 8 AM during Daylight Saving Time. Furthermore, for those around us, switching to DST negatively affects the parents who drive their children to school early and the blue-collar workers who are out of the house before 6 AM. These are people who complete their entire morning responsibilities entirely in the dark—moving the clock back by an hour does them no good.
This sentiment is reflected in a CBS News poll. Of those observed, 46% of Americans prefer permanently sticking to DST, with no switching between it and Standard Time.
Removing the switch would be beneficial because the biyearly transition to “spring forward” or “fall back” would prevent the unnatural transition between DST and Standard Time. Every person knows the inconvenience of losing an hour of sleep and having to rearrange your entire schedule.
And it does not stop there. Studies have found that the lost hour from switching to DST can lead to an increase in headaches and migraines, workplace accidents, deer sightings, heart attacks, car crashes, more depressive episodes and even lower Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores.
Similarly, for many people, the decreased hours of sun from the time change and winter season can affect hormone levels, leading to intense feelings of fatigue and depression, otherwise known as seasonal depression. But making DST permanent could prevent such side effects by putting off sunset during the fall and winter seasons as well.
So while there may be some drawbacks to getting rid of the transition from Standard to Daylight Savings Time and vice versa, it is a good thing that doing away with the switch is where the nation seems to be headed. Hopefully, Congress can continue on its path toward a healthier and more convenient lifestyle.