Opinion: It’s time to end the ‘spring forward’ and ‘fall back’ tired tradition

This weekend, Americans will change their clocks and lose an hour of sleep, all because of a senseless and outdated government policy. Changing between daylight saving time and standard time isn’t just an inconvenience to people everywhere — it has real repercussions for Americans’ health, economy and public safety.

We can’t always get bipartisan agreement in Congress these days, but here’s one thing we can agree on: we could all use a bit more sunshine. That’s why we’re working together in the US Senate to make sure we end the practice of “spring forward” and “fall back” by making daylight saving time permanent.

As US senators, we have seen the strong public support among Americans for making daylight saving time permanent. Already, 20 of the 48 states that observe the time change have passed proposals for year-round daylight. The states of Massachusetts and Florida, which we represent, have already expressed support for switching to permanent daylight saving time.
The adoption of daylight saving time in the United States through the Calder Act, also known as the Standard Time Act of 1918, was preceded by adoption of daylight saving time in Europe during World War I and first conceived as a way to conserve energy during wartime. It’s time we update it. But our states can’t do it without enacting federal legislation. That’s why we’ve introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, which would amend the legislation which created time zones, the time change and how time zones are determined, to make brighter days a reality year-round.

Here’s why you should count yourself in:

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The effects of darker afternoons on our mental and physical health can be serious. The biannual transition of “spring forward” and “fall back” disrupts circadian sleeping patterns, causing confusion, sleep disturbances and even an elevated risk to heart health.

The rate of heart attacks spikes by 24% in the days following “spring forward” in March, according to a 2014 study from the University of Michigan. Another study, published in 2016, found stroke rates may also increase by eight percent. Year-round daylight saving time could also decrease the likelihood of fatal car accidents, which jump six percent in the days following the time change, according to a 2020 study from the University of Colorado.
Stolen evening sunlight can also negatively impact mental health. A Danish study found hospitals see an 11% uptick in patients with symptoms of depression immediately following the switch from sunnier daylight saving time to the darker standard time in the fall. By making our days brighter year-round, we can also permanently speed up the clock on seasonal depression triggered by the dark days of winter.
Furthermore, extra sunshine in the evenings can give our economy a boost, with consumer spending up 3.5% when we have more daylight in the evenings, according to the same study in Denmark. And beyond the statistics, there’s the simple truth that we all like more sunshine. Evening daylight hours mean more of the day to enjoy after work and allows our kids more time to play after school.

It’s really straightforward: Cutting back on the sun during the fall and winter is a drain on the American people and does little to nothing to help them. It’s time we retire this tired tradition. Tell your senators to lighten up and back our Sunshine Protection Act.

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