A bill that would end "falling back" forever just passed the Senate and could pass the House. But its not all sunshine and roses on the other side of the clock.
If there’s only one thing all parents can agree on, it’s that time changes are the absolute worst—and it looks like every single member of the Senate agrees. Yesterday, in a unanimous vote, members of the Senate agreed that time changes need to come to an end, and starting in November 2023, we will live in perpetual daylight savings time (the time we just sprung forward into) if the bill passes the House and then makes its way to the President’s desk without a veto by him.
That means more daylight in the afternoon and evenings in the darkest months of the year, (yay!) but also darker mornings (boo!) at the same time. Some experts aren’t sure we should do it while others say jumping back and forth is terrible for us — after all, data has shown that adverse heart events and car accidents, and the like jump significantly in the day following springing forward in particular.
But, in case you were born after 1973, you might not know that this isn’t the first time the U.S. has tried a permanent shift to daylight savings time. And last time, it didn’t go so hot, either. So here’s everything you need to know about what would really happen if we permanently shifted to Daylight Saving Time.
The history of Daylight Saving Time
The switch to Daylight Savings Time happened over 100 years ago. In 1918, during the throes of WWI, legislators were keen to save energy and reduce costs so that more money could be funneled into the war effort, but once the Great War was won, DST stuck around like a bad habit.
The myth that DST was enacted to provide farmers with extra daylight in the evenings is a myth—farmers actually lobbied against the change.
What happened when we shifted to Daylight Saving Time permanently in 1973?
In 1973, Congress approved the switch, and Americans were stoked about it at first. But the law was repealed only three years later because it actually wasn’t so great. Turns out, people didn’t like the sun rising at 8:30 am in the winter. Just like the groggy shift to DST, when we made it permanent, the number of morning car accidents increased, as did the number of children hit by cars while walking to school in the mornings in the dark.
But, per The Washingtonian, accidents did also fall in the afternoon. In any case, what was overwhelmingly popular in 1973 (79 percent of Americans were happy for the change) was less so just months later (42 percent of Americans were happy with the change.) So, President Ford repealed the change shortly after.
Getting your kids up for school and not having the sunrise until they are at school for even an hour or an hour and a half won’t be super easy for parents.
Just how late would the sun rise, anyway?
It’ll still be dark until well after the work if we make Daylight Saving permanent, and school day has started for many of us, and for those farther north, the sun would rise later for those in, say, Florida. For example, for folks in Pennsylvania, the NYC tri-state area, and much of the Midwest, winter sunrise times would be between 8:30 am and 9 am, and sunset would occur between 5:30 and 6:00 pm.
At least one town in North Dakota wouldn’t see the sun until 9:30 a.m. during the middle of winter.
So is permanent DST all it’s cracked up to be?
There are a few benefits of permanent Daylight Saving Time, for sure. St. Louis Public Radio reports that shifting the clocks goes beyond irritating — it’s actually dangerous. Heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation, traffic accidents, screwing with our circadian clocks, all add up.
“When we spring forward, that loss of an hour of sleep is really challenging… It’s one hour that cumulatively, over many days, can have a big impact on our health,” Erik Herzog, a professor of biology and neuroscience at Washington University, told the publication.
What about permanent Daylight Standard Time?
But Herzog’s recommendation was actually to shift to daylight standard time rather than saving time. “Having light in the morning helps us align our biology to local time. If we’re forcing ourselves to wake up before sunrise, that turns out to be against our biology.”
So while not dealing with abrupt sleep fluctuations that harm our health and grumpy kids who are off their sleep schedule for a week after each time change does sound great. it’s not so cut and dry. Basically, some experts think we should permanently adapt to daylight standard time instead.
Some parents may find it challenging to wake before the sun for almost half the year, and kids may not be amenable to getting out of bed when it’s still dark outside. The late morning darkness will also mean additional risk for kids who still walk or bike to school.
On the other hand, many Americans will be able to kiss 4:30 pm darkness goodbye, which is clearly welcome to those of us who leave the office under the dark of night.
And remember, even if the law does pass, we’ll still have to fall back one more time… or many more, if we hate it and jump back to our old ways.