The political opposition to daylight saving time (DST) has continued to mount in the past five years, but a bill waiting in Congress could make it real—and make a mark on history.
- On March 12, most Americans turned back their clocks an hour and lost sleep but extended the time of sunset, with the next time change set for November 5.
- 19 state legislatures have passed bills since 2018 to abolish DST when the federal government approves it.
- Only 21% of Americans continue to approve of continuing to bi-annually swap their clocks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A 2022 YouGov poll found 64% of Americans wish to abolish DST.
- Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced the bi-partisan Sunshine Protection Act Of 2023 on March 2, after a previous version of the bill passed the Senate last year but was not voted on in the House of Representatives.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have not yet put the bill up for a vote, despite bipartisan support.
Why It’s Important
As the country moves through spring and into summer—with both DSL and the natural celestial path extending the days—the debate about the two-time-per-year time change gets real.
Opposition to DST has long been rooted in the inconvenience of the practice and in notable health data that suggests the bi-annual event is tied to unnecessary fatalities and health issues. While the practice can be traced back to 1918, it became Federal policy in 1966 as an energy-savings measure.
While 450 smaller bills were passed trying to address the issue prior to 2018, Florida took the lead in the anti-DST movement when it was the first to pass legislation abolishing the practice, should the federal government permit it. Arizona, Hawaii, and several U.S. territories already abstain from DST.
Defenders of the practice argue that it has saved 1.2 terawatts of energy per year, according to a report from the Department of Energy. It also balances various interests, and allows businesses and schools to make the most out of available daylight. It protects vulnerable pedestrians during commuting hours from having to walk home in the dark, Main Street Nashville reports.
Backing Up A Bit
While the majority of Americans dislike DST due to its inconvenience, medical experts are pushing against the practice due to noticeable health issues tied to the practice. Studies have shown in the time since that the practice is tied to spikes in car crashes, workplace accidents, deer strikes, heart attacks, mood disorders, and sleep apnea. And the debate has gotten humorous too.
A 2020 study from the National Institutes of Health claims 150,000 American annually face health problems tied to DST, including cardiovascular issues and emotional distress. Another study from Current Biology argues that removing the time change could prevent 36,550 annual deer deaths, 33 human deaths, 2,054 injuries, and $1.19 billion in annual car collision costs. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has publicly advocated a new “Permanent Standard Time.”
Dr. Fahmi Farah is a Board Certified Invasive Cardiologist based in Texas. She tells Leaders Media that sleep disturbance opens up risk factors for patients with preexisting conditions and can affect blood pressure, stress levels, and inflammation—contributing to cardiovascular issues. She tells Leaders Media that she is less focused on advocating for abolishing DST than promoting education and heart health to the public.
“Sleep is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is something we look into with every single patient. We test and treat patients for sleep apnea, which widely impacts the public. Sleep disturbance is a major factor in cardiovascular disease, and sleep disturbance can cause—for those with preexisting conditions—impacting their circadian rhythms and have an impact on their health,” says Dr. Farah.
“People should know how to minimize risk factors and understand the effect that this one-hour change, twice a year, can be addressed. You can offset the negative impact through gradual change. I tell my patients, two weeks ahead of time, to start going to sleep 15 minutes earlier every day, so your sleep rhythms will not be affected, and risk factors will be minimized,” she continues.