As daylight saving time ends, debate over the tradition continues


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  3 weeks ago  •  14 comments

By:   Aria Bendix

As daylight saving time ends, debate over the tradition continues
Sleep experts support a switch to permanent standard time. But the Sunshine Protection Act, which the Senate passed in March, would do the opposite.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

At 2 a.m. ET on Sunday, clocks in the U.S. will turn back one hour as daylight saving time ends, marking the beginning of winter's dark evenings.

The change often renews the longstanding debate about the tradition. In March, the Senate weighed in, unanimously voting in favor of the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent year-round for all states but Hawaii and most of Arizona, which would continue to observe year-round standard time. But the bill has stalled in the House.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who introduced the act, suggested it would reduce crime, encourage kids to play outside and lower the risk of heart attacks and car accidents.

"There's some strong science behind it that is now showing and making people aware of the harm that clock-switching has," Rubio said on the Senate floor in March.

Indeed, a 2020 study found that fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. rose 6% in the week after daylight saving started. Other studies have found that the switch to daylight saving brings small increases in workplace injuries and medical errors in the days following the change. A 2019 study, meanwhile, found that the risk of heart attacks went up in the week after clocks sprung forward, though other research did not find such an increase.

Those studies mostly looked at the immediate effects of turning clocks forward. But Steve Calandrillo, a law professor at the University of Washington, said people do benefit from sunlight later in the day, since that's when car crashes are more common.

A 2004 study estimated that switching to year-round daylight saving would result in 171 fewer pedestrian deaths each year and 195 fewer deaths among car drivers or passengers. Another study, published Wednesday, predicted that year-round daylight saving time would prevent 33 deaths and around 2,000 injuries among humans each year by reducing deer-vehicle collisions.

Calandrillo's research has also suggested that more sunlight in the evening reduces crime.

"I've always said darkness kills, sunshine saves — and darkness kills more people in the evening than it does in the morning," he said.

But the research is mixed overall, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports the opposite switch to permanent standard time, given research showing that our bodies function best with more sunlight in the morning.

"I have received calls from constituents who prefer permanent standard time because they have safety concerns for children who have to wait too long in the dark during winter for the school bus," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where the bill currently sits.

"And I have heard from constituents and businesses who prefer permanent daylight saving time because they prefer longer daylight hours."

Schakowsky said there does not seem to be a consensus among voters yet, but "we know that the majority of Americans do not want to keep switching the clocks back and forth."

Sleep experts don't support year-round daylight saving time

Ideally, the sun should reach its highest point at noon, according to sleep experts. That's known as solar time. During standard time, people in the central time zone are perfectly aligned with the sun's clock, whereas daylight saving pushes the U.S. further from solar time.

"Under standard time here in Seattle, we're about half an hour off from the real solar time, so if we are in daylight saving, we're almost one hour and a half off," said Horacio de la Iglesia, a biology professor at the University of Washington.

Though sleep experts favor permanent standard time, most would opt for switching back and forth over permanent daylight saving time, de la Iglesia said.

The more mismatch with solar time, the higher the risk of health problems, according to Dr. Karin Johnson, a neurology professor at UMass Chan Medical School-Baystate who is on the board of Save Standard Time, a nonprofit that advocates for permanent standard time.

Johnson said people in the U.S. lose about 19 minutes of sleep per day due to daylight saving time, which could increase their risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

"We really need to align to the sun," she said. "If we want to make social changes and decide we want that extra hour [of light] at the end of the day, then maybe the work schedule should be an hour shorter."

Dr. Kin Yuen, a sleep medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco and a fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said that when people rise in darkness, hormones like cortisol may not be readily available, so people might feel drowsier.

Then at night, daylight saving can lead people to go to bed later, which can delay the body's production of melatonin.

"Some people never adapt to daylight saving time, so they are predominantly so-called jet lagged for eight months of the year," Yuen said, adding, "our brains are wired to receive the sun in the morning and perform activities that are consistent with our internal clock."

A June study found that people whose clock times weren't closely aligned with the sun had 22% higher road fatality rates than those living within 30 minutes of solar time.

These cumulative health risks likely influenced Mexico's Senate vote last week to eliminate daylight saving time there.

The original argument for delaying daylight doesn't hold up

The U.S. first adopted daylight saving time in 1918 to save oil and electricity during World War I. But now, it isn't associated with energy savings. A 2011 study found that daylight saving actually cost Indiana households an extra $9 million per year in electricity bills because they spent more on heating and cooling, even though people used lights less.

"The real reason for why this policy came to be and we first started using it was because of energy, and right now it's a completely open question about whether or not it saves energy," said Matthew Kotchen, an economics professor at Yale University who conducted that research.

The country most recently experimented with permanent daylight saving in 1974, but that ended less than a year later, after eight Florida kids died in traffic accidents attributed to the change.

"Every time it's been tried in places, they often repeal it soon after," Kotchen said.


jrDiscussion - desc
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

Sure, add sleep deprivation to the rest of the existing problems - that should help.  No time changes or time differences where I am - same time all year round and all across the country - absolutely no confusion. 

Junior Participates
1.1  shona1  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago

We have just changed to daylight savings again. I hate it... wouldn't be so bad if they just had it for Summer..

But oh no..our Dumbo State government wanted it for 6 months..then none of the States could decide which weekend to change it so each State was doing something morons...

So now Qld and WA don't have it.. NSW, Vic, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales for Northern Territory and the ACT no idea what they are up too.

It's light here to after 9pm without daylight savings...geez if they want more light move to bloody Antarctica..

Professor Quiet
1.2  cjcold  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago

As I am retired, don't care either way. Have blackout shades and no bedroom clock.

Professor Quiet
1.2.1  cjcold  replied to  cjcold @1.2    3 weeks ago


Greg Jones
Professor Guide
2  Greg Jones    3 weeks ago

I'm for year round daylight time. Don't care for the early sunsets.....which today is 4:52 at Denver (~39th Parallel)..  Gets as early as 4:35  by the Solstice. Never has affected my sleep.

Professor Quiet
2.1  cjcold  replied to  Greg Jones @2    3 weeks ago

The Rockies always make sunset seem sooner but Denver smog makes sunsets colorful.

charger 383
Professor Quiet
3  charger 383    3 weeks ago

I don't like it getting dark even earlier in the evening.  Turn it the other way in the winter and have a little more evening light

Professor Principal
3.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  charger 383 @3    3 weeks ago

The fact that it's dark before I even leave work makes me just want to go home and hibernate.  It's depressing.

Professor Principal
3.2  Ender  replied to  charger 383 @3    3 weeks ago

Neither do I. It getting dark at 5 pm sucks.

Professor Quiet
3.2.1  cjcold  replied to  Ender @3.2    3 weeks ago

They make specially designed lights that mimic the sunlight spectrum.

The Alaskan import folk buy lots of them during the winter..

Junior Participates
4  GregTx    3 weeks ago

Just split the difference..... ezpz

Diablo Imperius
Professor Participates
5  Diablo Imperius    3 weeks ago

All these claims about DST being a problem for people just seem freaking loony to me.

I woke up a 4:30 am today.  My usual time.  It would have been 5:30 of course the day before.  Didn't notice a damn thing.

What I will notice however is that around 5pm it will become dark and all the azzwipe drivers that can't drive a night will become a bigger hazard on the road, particularly during rush hour tomorrow.   Come Spring we'll be able to play sports after work and participate in other outdoor activities later. That's freaking awesome.   However, I do understand why folks in AZ living in extreme heat may not find that desirable.

Nevertheless, it does strike as odd that you have these same people talking like it's the bane of their existence as if they never crossed a time zone.

GTFOver it already.

Professor Guide
6  Dig    3 weeks ago

If it has to be one or the other, then I absolutely want Daylight Saving Time. I need later light in the summer, and could actually use a little more than the single hour DST provides. For me, going the other way to Standard Time would be ludicrous in the summer, and for most of the U.S. the sun would start coming up at 4 A.M. around the solstice. Who the hell wants that?

If people don't want kids going to school in the dark, then the answer is obvious – start schools an hour later, which would have the added benefit of giving them an extra hour of sleep in the morning. We all know the pressure from TV and other things that keep kids up on school nights, at least for high school-aged kids. Another hour in the morning would certainly be helpful for them. I don't know what everyone's current school hours are, but I think my high school hours were something like 8:20 to 3:10. Switching to 9:20 and 4:10 would have been completely doable, and I would have loved the extra hour of sleep when I was a senior and had a part-time evening job.

As far as sleep experts being concerned, every point made sounds like hooey to me. I mean total boloney. I've never known anyone who patterns their life on the solar day, which is a different length at different latitudes anyway. The only problem with DST that I've ever been aware of is the actual switch to it in the spring, when people lose an hour. That day always sucks, but a few days later everything is fine and back to normal. 

Professor Principal
6.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Dig @6    3 weeks ago
As far as sleep experts being concerned, every point made sounds like hooey to me. I mean total boloney. I've never known anyone who patterns their life on the solar day, which is a different length at different latitudes anyway. The only problem with DST that I've ever been aware of is the actual switch to it in the spring, when people lose an hour. That day always sucks, but a few days later everything is fine and back to normal. 

Yep, I agree. 

We need daylight longer in the summer so people can enjoy outdoor activities in the hours after they get home from work. 


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