The U.S. Senate is finally making daylight savings time permanent. Here's why

It's about time, say scientists.
Ameya Paleja

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill that will see daylight savings time become permanent in the country starting November 2023, Reuters reported. The move is expected to not only bring in more revenue due to enhanced business activities during the daytime but also improve the general health of the public.

Daylight savings Time (DST) is a practice that began in Germany during World War I in an attempt to conserve fuel although William Willet, a British tradesman, is believed to have originally thought of the concept. One can get extra daylight in the evenings by switching clocks an hour earlier in the fall season, while turning the clocks forward in the spring season can ensure that the day starts early when plenty of sunlight is available. 

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Daylight savings in the U.S.

The practice was adopted in the U.S. in 1918 but was abolished soon after to be brought back in 1942 as War Time with the switching back in the summer. Since federal laws did not mandate DST in the U.S. until 1966, states were free to use the system if they wanted to. This resulted in quite some confusion for the transportation industry after which the Uniform Time Act was brought in. 

Even after reviews of the system over decades, the practice of DST that is effective in the U.S. for two-thirds of a year means that students go to school in the dark even as revenues from shopping and golfing remain on the higher side. 

Since 2015, as many as 30 states in the U.S. have adopted legislation that does not require them to change their clocks twice a year, Reuters said in its report. This is in the light of increasing scientific evidence that shows the practice of DST takes a toll on one's health. 

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What does science say?

Various studies have found a spike in suicides, heart attacks, automobile as well as work-related accidents, shortly after switching to DST. Researchers have found that short sleepers, individuals who sleep less than 7.5 hours a day, often face sleep disruptions after DST ends.

This is because the circadian rhythm - our body's clock that maintains the physical, mental and behavioral patterns over a 24 hour period - undergoes disruption with the clock changes, which can take a few weeks to settle down. Two clock changes in a calendar year mean that our bodies have to cope with this major shift twice every year just so that businesses can benefit in monetary terms, something that 71 percent of Americans are against. 

The legislation still needs to go through the House of Representatives before it is brought into force in November 2023. That basically means that Americans need to go through two more clock changes before the law comes into effect. 

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