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The dark side of permanent daylight saving time

By June 13th, 2022No Comments

By Mark E. Hornbeek

This article appeared as a Guest Column in The Journal Record on April 7, 2022.

Mark E. Hornbeek
Mark E. Hornbeek

If the Steve Miller Band is to be believed, time keeps on slippin’ into the future. Now, if certain lawmakers have their way, we may be stuck there forever. In March, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent, which would abolish our twice-yearly ritual of adjusting clocks between standard time and daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time was championed by Benjamin Franklin in the 1780s, but failed to catch on until countries began adopting it as an energy-saving measure during World War I. The theory was that if it remained brighter in the evenings citizens would consume less fuel lighting their homes, easing the burden of wartime rationing. America followed suit in 1918, establishing the spring-forward/fall-back routine we all know so well.

This time around, the Senate did not choose standard time as our new normal – instead they voted to lock the clock into its “sprung-forward” position, one hour ahead of standard time. This also is not the first time the United States has attempted to make daylight saving time permanent – Congress voted to stay on daylight saving time for two years in an attempt to ease consumption during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but all did not go as planned. Not only did the measure fail to reduce the country’s energy needs, it was so unpopular that Congress reinstituted standard time before the two-year experiment was over.

Permanent daylight saving time was widely hated because it does not actually add any hours of sunlight to your day. Instead, it simply makes the sun both rise and set an hour later, leading to darker mornings and brighter evenings. These effects are most pronounced during the winter months and health experts warn that remaining on daylight saving time year-round can disturb humans’ natural sleep patterns, leading to a range of health conditions from depression to obesity. Apparently people are happier and healthier if they aren’t going to work in the dark. Experts advise that if we are going to abandon our current system, we would be wise to remain on standard time year-round because it aligns more closely to our natural sleep cycles.

But all is not lost. The Senate bill still needs approval from the U.S. House of Representatives before it can take effect and, in a move Cher would approve of, Oklahoma’s own House has passed a bill to turn back time, allowing Oklahomans to instead fall-back permanently to standard time.

Mark E. Hornbeek is a litigation attorney at the law firm of Phillips Murrah in Oklahoma City who represents individuals and both privately-held and public companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters.

For more information on this alert and its impact on your business, please call 405.606.4756 or email Mark E. Hornbeek.

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