The End of Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight Saving Time ends on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 AM—so get ready to turn your clocks back and give yourself an extra hour of sleep before you go to church this Sunday! In the springtime, we move our clocks ahead and lose an hour of sleep, only to regain it in the fall. It seems like a strange ritual we all do every year not only in the U.S., but also in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and the European Union.

How Daylight Saving Time Started

Daylight Saving Time is the practice of advancing clocks in the warmer months so that darkness falls at a later clock time, allowing for more hours of daylight. The idea of aligning waking hours to daylight hours to conserve candles was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. He suggested that waking up earlier in the summer would economize on candle usage; and calculated considerable savings.

However, Franklin was not proposing turning the clocks back—he was merely suggesting that we change our sleep habits to take advantage of more sunlight. It was Englishman William Willett who led the first campaign to implement daylight saving time. He published the 1907 brochure “The Waste of Daylight” and spent much of his personal fortune evangelizing with missionary zeal for the adoption of “summer time.”Unfortunately, he would not live to see his dream realized. That wouldn’t happen until April 30, 1916, when Germany embraced daylight saving time to conserve electricity during World War I.

And contrary to the notion that daylight saving time was implemented as a way to give farmers more time to work in the fields, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to adopting this practice. The reality was that farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay. Hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules. Rather than rural interests, it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades.

Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.

March 31, 1918, Daylight Saving Time officially went into effect in the U.S. for the first time after congress passed the Standard Time Act. Permanent Daylight Saving Time was followed during the wartime years of 1918-1919 and later in 1942-1945 to conserve energy. It wasn’t until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act established the current practice of switching between standard time and daylight savings time. However, not all states observe DST: Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of the practice.Notwithstanding, most Americans have been living with these time changes as far back as can be remembered.

For most of us, this normal routine doesn’t impact our lives in a big way, but there are those who are fighting to put an end to it. Some experts in circadian rhythms and sleep health recommend year-round standard time as the preferred option for public health and safety. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) holds the position that "seasonal time changes should be abolished in favor of a fixed, national, year-round standard time,” and that "standard time is a better option than daylight saving time for our health, mood and well-being."

Advocates for permanent Daylight Saving Time cite the benefits including safer roadways, boosting the tourism industry, and energy savings. Detractors point out the relatively late sunrises, particularly in winter, that year-round DST entails. This seems to be a minor issue when compared with everything else going on in our world today; however, making a change at this time could have implications that have not been thoroughly analyzed (anyone remember the hype around Y2K?). Of course, perhaps we should just wait for AI to dictate what the best solution is.

Sunshine Protection Act

There currently is a movement to permanently end Daylight Saving Time. The Sunshine Protection Act, a bill introduced by Florida Senator Mark Rubio, passed the Senate with unanimous consent on March 15, 2022. The bill would eliminate the changing of clocks to standard time for the months of November to March. If it is enacted, we would have DST all year, instead of only eight months. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending where you stand on this issue), that bill has been stalled, though. It did not pass the U.S. House of Representatives, and a 2023 version has seen no movement.

What is stopping the momentum of passing this bill? The main impediments appear to be fundamental disagreements over its language and a general consensus that other matters take precedence as the House grapples with high inflation, border security and other major issues. According to The Hill, days after Senate passage, some House members started asking for additional research into and discussion regarding the bill, signaling potential headwinds. Apparently, while a number of lawmakers agree that “spring forward” and “fall back” clock changes should be done away with, they are at odds over what the permanent time should be — daylight saving or standard. Did they even ask AI?

Well, this November 5, you will need to turn your clocks back (unless you’re in Arizona or Hawaii). Enjoy the extra hour of sleep while you can still get it!