American Opinion: Just say no to permanent daylight saving

American Opinion: It will now fall to House lawmakers to once again determine the fate of daylight saving time. Before repeating a failed experiment, they should slow down and shed some more sunlight on this debate.

 daylight saving time
With little debate, the Senate voted to make daylight saving time permanent.
We are part of The Trust Project.

When has the U.S. Senate ever moved faster?

In less than 30 seconds Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers unanimously consented to make daylight saving time permanent. The legislation never even came up for debate. Senators were apparently cranky enough about losing an hour of sleep last weekend to basically say they’d had enough.

In one sense, reform is welcome. Changing clocks twice a year — a policy adopted during World War I to conserve electricity — is disruptive to people’s sleep and health. It’s been associated with a rise in heart attacks, strokes and mood disorders; a spike in morning car crashes; and widespread discomfort, whining and unhappiness. By one estimate, the time shift costs the economy some $434 million annually.

Sticking with the same time all year, then, would surely make sense. But why choose daylight saving time without a moment’s consideration of the alternative?

Standard time is better aligned with the position of the sun and human nature. It generally synchronizes people’s waking with sunrise and bedtime with darkness, in accordance with circadian rhythms. It also enables children and adults to go to school and work in daylight.


DST effectively does the reverse. By increasing exposure to morning darkness and evening light, it shifts body clocks later in the day and makes it difficult to fully wake up or easily fall asleep, a particular hazard for children. Having to be at school or work unnaturally early leads to “social jet lag,” which is associated with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease and depression. As for conserving energy, the original rationale? Studies suggest DST may in fact do the opposite.

Of course, DST has its benefits. Some businesses — such as golf course operators and retail stores — may prefer giving customers an extra hour of sunlight on their way home from work. (Coffee shops might feel differently.) Added daylight also seems to be associated with a decrease in robberies and in evening car crashes. And many people simply prefer the extra afternoon light: In fact, a solid plurality of Americans now say they want to make DST permanent.

Perhaps they don’t remember how unhappy everyone was the last time Congress imposed year-round DST, during the oil embargo of the early 1970s. Although the change was popular at first, late sunrises in the dead of winter soon weighed on people’s minds. Energy savings proved negligible. Stories about children being injured or killed in accidents while walking to school in the dark gained national attention. (Permanent daylight savings time would result in a sunrise time around 9 a.m. for much of the winter season in west central Minnesota.)

Support for the initiative plunged by 37 percentage points in just three months. Congress soon reversed course entirely.

It will now fall to House lawmakers to once again determine the fate of daylight saving time. Before repeating a failed experiment, they should slow down and shed some more sunlight on this debate.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Bloomberg Opinion Editorial Board.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


More editorials:
Recent editorials of other newspapers published in the West Central Tribune.
From the editorial: First, public debt cannot safely be allowed to keep rising at the projected rate. Second, purporting to solve this problem by threatening to default on the country’s obligations is nuts.

American Opinion
American Opinion

What To Read Next
From the editorial: (This is another step away from true government transparency, similar to the Kandiyohi County Board's public notice decision in January to eliminate its public notice distribution to nearly 70% of the county's households. County board chair Roger Ibdieke says the county's public notices are available on its website. A Tribune reader commented on Wednesday, "My understanding is that public notices are available on the website. However, I was unable to find them.")
From the editorial: The man the voters elected bears little resemblance to the disgraced and diminished figure who now puts on a brave face.
From the editorial: To everyone who went through the process this year, and for everyone about to go through it, we offer a grateful “welcome.”
From the editorial: Here, Congress should step in with some key tweaks, among them allowing asylum-seekers to begin working to support themselves after their cases have passed the first hurdle.