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Daylight savings: A political issue? 

| Wednesday, March 23, 2022

As I am sure you remember, this past March 13, we all woke up just a little bit more groggy and tired than usual. Of course, this was the result of daylight savings time going into effect. Or, as we all experienced a couple of weeks ago, the day when we lose an hour of sleep. 

Sleep enthusiasts (like myself) were excited to hear that the Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act on March 15. The bill would make daylight savings time permanent throughout the year, meaning that we would no longer turn our clocks back one hour in the winter and one hour forward again in the spring. But, most importantly to me, the Sunshine Protection Act meant that I wouldn’t lose an hour of sleep every March. 

Evidence suggests that permanent daylight savings time will be widely supported. Research indicates 7 in 10 Americans prefer not to switch their clocks around. Marco Rubio, a Republican Senator from Florida, echoed this sentiment when he spoke in favor of his bill, indicating that “the majority of the American people’s preference is to just stop the back-and-forth changing.” Changing clocks is a hassle. Even though smartphones automatically update with the new time, the shift can initially be disruptive or make your day feel slightly off. 

Despite this, the Sunshine Protection Act may not end up being that popular amongst Americans. In fact, in the early 1970s, the United States had already made daylight savings time permanent. The measure was a temporary, two-year experiment by Congress in order to resolve the energy crisis at the time, believing that having more sunlight in the evening hours would reduce energy consumption. Unsurprisingly, it did not take long before the law became incredibly unpopular as any sort of change, even if it’s adding or taking away an hour, immediately becomes controversial. The experiment not only failed from a social standpoint but from a scientific one, as energy consumption was not reduced as initially intended.

Before the two years were up, Congress ended up repealing the law. While it’s true that Americans do not like the hassle of changing their clocks or losing an hour of sleep, it turns out that they also hate darkness in the mornings. Many people despised having to wake up before sunrise, driving to work and school in the dark for the duration of the winter months. 

On the other hand, advocates for permanent daylight savings time argue that sunlight in the evening is preferable to the morning. For example, some claim that dealing with darkness while driving home from work is worse than the darkness during their morning route. Others indicate that more sunlight in the evening hours might be better for mental health, general morale, and public safety. 

To be quite frank, I honestly do not care. That is, I am entirely neutral about whether an hour of sunlight in the morning or evening is preferable. I can see why it’s nice to have sunlight on your way to work, but I also understand how evening sunlight is beneficial. However, I am in favor of the Sunshine Protection Act for one reason and one reason only: sleep. With permanent daylight savings time, I would no longer have to lose an hour of my precious slumber every spring. I know it sounds dramatic, but the day that daylight savings time goes into effect is my least favorite day of the year. I wake up grumpy, unrested, and annoyed that we had to change the time at all. Regardless of the potential for more sunlight in the morning or evening, we just need to stop changing the time. 

I’m not alone in this view. While Americans are pretty divided about whether they prefer standard time or daylight time — 40% prefer the former and 31% choose the latter only 28% prefer to switch back and forth. A substantial percentage of Americans are united by the belief that shifting time twice a year is tedious and tiring.

While darkness in the morning has its drawbacks, I fully support the Sunshine Protection Act. Assuming the bill passes in the House of Representatives, I’m already looking forward to next spring, knowing that I will be keeping my hour of rest. 

Libby Messman is a junior studying Political Science and Philosophy living in Pasquerilla West Hall. She serves as the Vice President for BridgeND. 

BridgeND is a student-led discussion club that is committed to bridging polarization in politics and educating on how to engage in respectful and productive discourse. BridgeND welcomes students of all backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences who want to strengthen their knowledge of current issues or educate others on an issue that is important to them. The club meets weekly on Mondays at 7pm in DeBartolo Hall #217. Want to learn more? Contact [email protected] or @bridge_ND on Twitter and Instagram.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About BridgeND

BridgeND is a bipartisan student political organization that brings together Democrats, Republicans, and all those in between to discuss public policy issues of national importance. They meet Tuesday nights (starting Sept.8) from 8-9pm in the McNeil room of LaFortune. They can be reached at [email protected] or by following them on Twitter @bridge_ND

Contact Bridge