Daylight Saving Time: Here’s What Losing An Hour of Sleep Really Does to Your Body
MARCH 10, 2023 7:00 AM EST
Earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio reintroduced legislation that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent, proposing an end to the bi-annual clock change that disrupts the lives of millions of Americans.
The Sunshine Protection Act passed unanimously in the Senate last year, but the bill stalled in the House. Sen. Rubio reintroduced the bill in the Senate on March 2 to try to end what he called an “antiquated practice.”
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid. Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done,” Rubio said in a press release on March 2.
Experts say ending the practice has potential benefits, including decreased risk for cardiac problems and stroke.
Here’s what to know about the future of Daylight Saving Time.
What is Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight Saving Time, when clocks move one hour ahead every spring, adds one hour of sunlight to the end of the day.
Historians trace the origins of this custom to World War I, as countries used the change to save power and fuel. Consumerism played an additional role, as Americans were more likely to shop if there was still light out when they left work.
The practice was abolished after the war, but later became standard practice by 1966 after the passage of the Uniform Time Act. Only two states do not observe Daylight Saving Time—Hawaii and Arizona.
This year it begins on Sunday, March 12, and is set to last until Nov. 5. During the remaining third of a year, the United States uses Standard Time.
Is the U.S. stopping Daylight Saving Time?
The future of Daylight Saving Time remains in limbo. Sen. Rubio introduced the Sunshine Protection Act in the Senate (while Rep. Buchanan did so in the House), but there is no certainty whether it will pass or once again be hindered in Congress.
The only other way the U.S. could make Daylight Saving Time permanent on the national level is if a state or local government were to formally request the U.S. Secretary of Transportation with “detailed information” as to why the change “would serve the convenience of commerce.
The U.S. previously observed year-round Daylight Saving Time from ten months in the 1970s, according to the Washingtonian, to reduce the effect of a national energy crisis.
The nation was set to observe permanent Daylight Saving Time for two years, but the trial was cut short because parents were worried about early morning traffic accidents when their kids were commuting to school in the winter, per the New York Times.
“There are enormous health and economic benefits to making daylight saving time permanent,” said House Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in a press release on March 3. “Florida lawmakers have already voted to make daylight saving time permanent in my home state and Congress should pass the Sunshine Protection Act to move Florida and the rest of the country to year-round daylight saving time.”
Why not make Daylight Saving Time permanent?
Last year, there were at least 450 bills considered across state legislatures that would make Daylight Saving Time year-round if a federal law passes.
But as there seems to be a bipartisan push to make this change permanent, some experts say that could harm Americans. Research by the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms found that there are greater advantages to making standard time permanent, as opposed to Daylight Saving Time.
Implementing a permanent switch to Daylight Saving Time would harm our bodies because it would increase the difference between the social clock and the body clock. Doing so, they say, is “associated with decreased life expectancy, shorten[ed] sleep, cause mental and cognitive problems, and contribute to the many sleep disturbances in our societies that are estimated to cost approximately 2% of the gross domestic product.”