Congress should pass Daylight Saving Bill

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Opinions Editor

I had never really given a ton of thought to Daylight Saving Time previously. I’ve always filed it in my brain as something that just happens. You know, you do the whole thing with the clocks, even though we’ve reached the point now where a majority of them are automated and change on their own, everyone complains that they’re losing an hour of sleep and it’s still pitch black outside at six in the morning. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become aware of the fact that a lot of people don’t look at the event with such nonchalance. Some are adamant we should make changes to the system or do away with the flip flopping back and forth completely and just commit to one. I started giving the situation a second thought as it became increasingly inconvenient having to go pick up my Dunkin Donuts order at 4:45 p.m., before it got dark, if I felt so inclined to order out for dinner in the Fall. Well that, and the U.S. Senate very suddenly passed a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. 

Yes, about three weeks ago, pretty much out of nowhere, the Senate passed a bill, referred to as the “Sunshine Protection Act,” which would make Daylight Saving Time permanent throughout the country. Gone would be the days of gaining an hour back in the Fall; the entire country would be uniform in following the Daylight Saving Time system all year long. The bill was passed unanimously, and it had support from members of both the Republican and Democratic parties. 

However, this doesn’t mean that anything is entirely set in stone; the bill still needs to pass through the House of Representatives and be approved by President Joe Biden to become a law. This bill has inspired experts and random civilians alike to come forward and voice their opinions on the proposed change. Before I share mine, I want to establish that between those two categories, I definitely fall into the latter; I’m not an expert on the subject by any means, and so my commentary is largely from the perspective of just another individual that would be affected by the change. 

My initial thought is that I agree with the change Congress is trying to make. It’s a little odd how they went about doing it, but I agree with the overall goal. Admittedly, it is a little extraneous to keep flipping back and forth between the two; I would rather personally have the extra hours of sunlight in the evening than in the morning. That part of the issue mostly comes down to personal preference or personal situation. 

For a parent that sends their child to school on the bus, it’s understandable that the change could be more of a cause for concern; this specific circumstance comes up often when the situation is discussed. However, it does bring up a point if something like this is really reason enough for us to disregard the idea, since this is something parents have to deal with even under the system as is. Daylight Saving starts in March; although it varies by state when a school year ends, it’s usually around May or June. Therefore, parents already have to deal with months of Daylight Saving during a normal school year anyways. 

It really comes down to just picking your poison: it’s either going to be dark in the morning or dark in the evening. Nothing is ever going to be perfect for everyone; even with the system as is, certain circumstances are only satisfied sometimes. The extra sunlight in the evening would be more beneficial, when more people are active and going about their day to actually utilize it. 

With that being said, it’s important to consider the connotations we have as a society for certain times of the day. The evening hours are usually regarded as shadier or more dangerous than the early morning. I don’t mind as much if I have to travel during a dark morning; I would rather do that then travel at night. Studies have shown that Daylight Saving does actually reduce crime by allowing it to stay lighter longer into the evening, as confirmed by Adrianna Rodriguez, a health reporter for USA Today. 

Rodriguez also noted that Daylight Saving has been known to save energy, as people don’t have to turn lights on as early in the evening and reduces traffic accidents, as it provides a larger window of time for people to get where they’re going in the evening before it gets dark. She also explained that there are studies that show an increase in accidents right after the switch between Standard and Daylight Saving Time, but that after the spike, it peters out and accidents decrease. If anything, this seems like all the more reason to keep one consistent system. 

However, there are other factors that need to be considered: we also have to think about what’s best for sleep schedules, which was my biggest concern when I heard about the permanent switch, as Daylight Saving Time is known for taking an hour of sleep away. 

From what Rodriguez and a piece from the Sleep Foundation by Danielle Pacheco have said, that concern is valid. In short, Pacheco sums it up best in saying, “While many people adapt to time changes, some studies have suggested the human body never fully acclimates to DST.” So that doesn’t necessarily make the best case for Daylight Saving Time. Although, Pacheco and Rodriguez both argue the most pressing issue of DST is the actual transition between the two. It causes all sorts of problems by messing up everyone’s sleep schedules. 

With the sleep effects considered and noted, I’m still in favor of Daylight Saving Time. Neither system on its own is perfect, but between the two, I think it’s the better deal. Of course, I want to be healthy, and I want to get enough sleep, but as it is right now, I’m probably not doing everything I could to make my cycle as good as possible anyways, as I imagine most people are not either. It’s just human nature. I probably shouldn’t be going to sleep at 11:30 when I have to wake up at 6:00 the next morning, but what can I say? I have shows to watch. I’m not trying to advocate for bad sleep routines, I’m just acknowledging that most of us probably are not practicing perfect habits already, regardless of what time of year it is. However, I can completely understand how someone who has trouble sleeping would be more in favor of converting fully to Standard Time. 

The system currently in place exists in order to capitalize on the sunlight, and it doesn’t. Standard Time capitalizes on light that comes in so early no one is awake to utilize it. Daylight Saving is not a perfect system, but it’s the best of the options being presented. Hopefully, this bill can make some kind of headway in the House of Representatives.