The Senate just voted to make daylight saving time permanent. 

A bright orange sunset over the English countryside, taken on August 5, 2008. (Photo by Chris George/PhotoPlus Magazine via Getty Images)

The US Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to make daylight saving time permanent beginning in 2023. Perhaps the clear findings were affected by the fact that most of us just set the clocks forward on Sunday, and the disruption it caused is still fresh in the minds of politicians. 

While some states have approved legislation to extend daylight saving time hours in recent years, this decision by the US Senate is the most significant. Americans will no longer have to reset their clocks twice a year if the bill passes the House and then the president. (At this point, it’s unclear whether the House will take up the bill at all.)

The advantages of extending daylight saving time throughout the year — or just preserving standard time throughout the year — outnumber the advantages of avoiding the trouble of changing the clocks (even if many timepieces these days do this automatically).

At the very least, it has the ability to enhance our collective health and maybe avoid some car accidents. It would at the very least alleviate some of the moaning and inconvenience that comes with losing an hour of sleep when daylight saving time begins in the spring. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Daylight saving time started to conserve energy. It didn’t work.

In the United States, daylight saving time began as an energy conservation measure during World War I and became a nationwide norm in the 1960s. The idea is that we move the quantity of daylight hours we get into the evening during the summer months. So, if the sun sets at 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., we’d likely spend less time in our houses at night with the lights on, conserving power.

It also means you’ll be less inclined to sleep through the morning daylight hours, which have been relocated one hour later. As a result, daylight hours are “saved” for the most productive period of the day.

This notion, however, never appeared to work out. The seeming energy savings from using more daylight in the evening turns out to be ambiguous or nonexistent.

Daylight saving time — and yes, it’s “saving time” rather than “savings time” — begins in the spring, just as the lengthening of daylight hours becomes noticeable. Furthermore, the practise has no effect on the amount of daylight hours that fall throughout our big, lovely land. The tilt of the Earth’s axis and our planet’s position in its orbit around the sun dictate them. And there are things over which we have no control.

The case for consistency

People should follow the same sleep pattern every night for maximum health, going to bed and awakening at the same times each day, according to sleep specialists. Many of us will lose an hour of sleep when we advance the clocks one hour in the spring. Our biological clocks are somewhat off in the days after the commencement of daylight saving time. It’s as though the entire country has been handed one extra hour of sleep.

One hour of sleep deprivation may seem little, yet humans are delicate, sensitive creatures. Jet lag may disrupt our metabolism, and severe cases might lead to diabetes or obesity. However, jet lag reduces our mental acuity in the short term.

And everything about us is out of sync when our biological clocks are off. To keep up with our behaviours, our bodies run on a strict schedule. We create the most insulin in the morning since we normally consume a meal shortly after waking up. We’re set to digest breakfast before we even take a mouthful. That way, it’s more efficient.

Our bodies are not prepared for our actions at any moment of the day if we are an hour behind schedule.

 

One example: driving.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University wanted to know what happens on the road when millions of drivers’ sleep is interrupted in 1999.

They discovered a very small but significant increase in road deaths on the Monday after the spring time change, based on 21 years of fatal car crash data from the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration: the number of fatal accidents increased to an average of 83.5 on the “spring forward” Monday, compared to an average of 78.2 on a typical Monday.

It appears that it isn’t simply car accidents. There has also been mounting evidence of an increase in occupational injuries and heart attacks in the days after the spring forward.

Many Americans may be opposed to prolonging daylight saving time throughout the year. Not everyone was thrilled when daylight saving time was extended for 16 months in the 1970s. Only 30% of Americans approved of the shift once it began, according to polling at the time. “Parents were suddenly sending their children to school in the cold and the dark for months on end,” according to the Washington Post, fueling the negative feeling.

However, individuals who assume, “I don’t want later sunset times all year!” are mistaken. or “I don’t want to begin my day in the dark in the winter!” know that our culture has always had the ability to… progressively modify school or job start times in response to the seasons.

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