Make Daylight Saving Time permanent, or ban it altogether?

This past Sunday we all moved our clocks back to Standard Time, thereby ending Daylight Saving Time. 

Spring forward, fall back. You know the drill.

And what a drill it’s become. Daylight Saving Time is yet another practice that has gone completely off the rails in my lifetime.

When I was a kid, Daylight Saving Time ran from late April through late October. For example: In 1981, Daylight Saving Time began on Sunday, April 26, and ran through Sunday, October 25.

In 2022, by contrast, Daylight Saving Time ran from March 13 through November 6. This has been the trend for years now: to make Daylight Saving Time extend for as many weeks as possible.

The fetish for Daylight Saving Time has become so intense that a new proposed law, the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, would make Daylight Saving Time permanent. The bill has bipartisan support. Our two major political parties have finally found something they can agree on, and—big surprise—it isn’t anything that is particularly useful.

But not everyone agrees. Many sleep experts assert that Standard Time—which is based on centuries of human sleeping and waking habits—more accurately reflects our circadian rhythms. Standard Time is more closely aligned to the solar cycle, too. That’s why it’s “standard”. 

A counter-movement therefore aims to ban Daylight Saving Time outright. A group called the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is spearheading that effort. According to the AASM: 

“Current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”

That would mean the end, of course, to those 9:50 p.m. sunsets in June (depending on where you live). Call me crazy, but no one really needs daylight after 9 p.m., at any time of year. After all, some early risers go to bed around 9 p.m. 

But that endless daylight of summer is now engrained in our culture. Most folks, I suspect, would not support a total abolishment of Daylight Saving Time, as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine proposes. 

There might be an alternative middle ground. And the fact is: this is only half a problem. Few of us have difficulty going back to Standard Time in the fall. It’s the shift to Daylight Saving Time—at a now ridiculously early date in March—that throws us off. This is the shift that leads to sleep deprivation and automobile accidents.

I would argue, therefore, for a return to the more sensible ways of the past. (No big surprise, to regular readers of this blog.) Daylight Saving Time used to be a distinctly summertime thing. I remember it as something that kicked in near the end of the school year, and ended just before Halloween. We always looked forward to going trick-or-treating in the new, darker evening hours. 

The old Daylight Saving Time (late April through October) was so much simpler. But leave it to politicians to unnecessarily complicate matters, and twist words while they’re doing so. The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 wouldn’t “protect” any sunshine. It would merely extend an unnatural way of setting the clock for the entire year. 

The old pattern for Daylight Saving Time was less cumbersome, because it more closely matched the long days of the summer season, shifting back to Standard Time just as the days grew shorter. Waking up an hour earlier at the end of April was also less disruptive than waking up an hour earlier on the second Sunday in March. 

If you live in Ohio, the second weekend in March is still winter, after all. Much too early in the year for Daylight Saving Time, in this Ohioan’s humble opinion.