WASHINGTON D.C. — Don't rub your eyes. It's not the spring-forward loss of sleep; the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday, one that would make daylight saving time permanent.
“Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth and the disruption that comes with it. And one has to ask themselves, Why do we keep doing it?” Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Florida) said on the Senate floor.
Rubio sponsored the so-called Sunshine Protection Act, which would stop the back-and-forth clock changing most of America has been doing on and off since 1918, when daylight saving time was first put into law to help conserve energy during World War I.
“The good news is that we can get this passed. We don't have to keep doing this stupidity anymore. And why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me. But hopefully this is the year that this gets done,” Rubio added.
The current twice-a-year time change can be dangerous to physical and mental health. Studies show it leads to increased strokes, heart attacks and even car accidents.
“There's a spike in emergency room visits and heart attacks, and there's actually a huge spike in motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents,” Dr. Katherina Green, the medical director of the sleep center at the University of Colorado, told our sister station KGMH.
Sleep scientists agree we shouldn’t be changing clocks every fall and spring but argue standard time, what we use from November to March, should be the norm, as it’s more in line with our natural circadian rhythm.
“There is no question that putting an end to seasonal time change is best for Americans’ well-being,” said Erin Flynn-Evans with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “However, a shift to permanent daylight time — which would result in more morning darkness in the winter — would result in most people experiencing a misalignment between the body’s daily rhythm and the timing of routine social obligations like work and school. Therefore, permanent year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match the circadian sleep-wake cycle.”
However, supporters of the proposal say there’s more benefits to later days.
“The research for example shows 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,” Rubio added.
More than a dozen states have passed similar bills or resolutions to make clock switching or make DST permanent, but without federal approval they can’t make the change. Two states, Arizona and Hawaii, do not observe DST and the bill would allow them to stay on standard time.
In Michigan’s Legislature, a bill to make DST permanent passed the House in 2021, but never gained any ground in the state Senate. If it became permanent in West Michigan, expect winter sunrises to begin around 9 a.m. EST, but the sun to set after 6 p.m.
The bill will still need to be taken up for a vote in the House. If approved and then signed into law by President Joe Biden, it will take a full year for it to go into effect because transportation schedules are built out until then. That means in fall of 2023, we wouldn’t "fall back."
“I know this is not the most important issue confronting America, but it's one of those issues where there's a lot of agreement,” Rubio added.
In the 70s during the energy crisis, the U.S. made daylight saving time year-round for a little over a year, but it became very unpopular with parents who didn’t want their kids waiting at the school bus stop in the dark.
That eventually led to West Michigan’s own, the late President Gerald R. Ford, signing a bill that put us back on the standard time we use today.