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Our view: Time to stop falling back and springing forward

Our view: Time to stop falling back and springing forward

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Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner. And if you think just one hour of sleep gone is not that big of a deal, think again.

It has been three days since daylight saving time slipped back into our lives, like a thief in the night, and stole its annual hour of sleep from us.

But we’re still shaking off the effects, stumbling out of bed and cussing under our breath about the 60 minutes Big Government pilfers from us, same time, every year.

Someone, please, spare us the fog of having to reset our minds and bodies twice a year, much less our clocks.

This kind of wokeness we don’t need.

Frankly, the idea of falling back and springing forward has always seemed better in theory than in practice. Already nearly 40% of adults in America fail to get the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.

Making that bad situation worse, say health experts, has been the pandemic. COVID-19 has raised anxiety levels, scrambled our schedules and chained us to computer screens, hence adding a new obstacle to a decent night’s sleep.

Then along comes daylight saving time.

For whom does that bell toll? It tolls for us. And we have had enough of it.

So has a bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers who are attempting to turn back the hands of time to a simpler era. The Sunshine Protection Act, as its called, would end standard time and keep the nation on daylight saving time year round. Five Republican senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, and three Democrats last week proposed the legislation.

“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio said in a statement.

Fifteen states have passed similar laws but can’t enforce them without an act of Congress. In North Carolina, a pending bill in the state House, HB 350, was filed in 2019.

Critics of the current “fall forward, spring back” regimen also note possible health risks, including sleep disruption and increased risks of heart attacks. The U.S. Department of Transportation cites more car crashes in the days that immediately follow a time shift, as well as workplace injuries.

The nation has had second thoughts about seasonal time shifts before. Daylight saving time, or DST, was introduced in the United States in 1918 to conserve energy during World War I. But when the war ended, so did DST. After World War II erupted, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reinstituted year-round daylight saving time in 1942 as an energy conservation measure. That move also was rescinded once the war ended in 1945.

The U.S. tried DST once again during the energy crisis of the 1970s. But that effort lasted less than two years, from January 1974 to October 1975.

A major plus of the DST is more evening sunlight — a chance for more outdoor activities before the sun sets.

Just so you know, it’s never been clear that shifting to DST actually conserved that much energy. Another drawback, if DST were in effect year round, would be younger children waiting for school buses in morning darkness during the winter. Another is the belief by some sleep experts who agree that the annual shift makes no sense. But they prefer keeping standard time.

In 2020, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine argued in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine against year-round DST because it can having lasting effects. When there is “chronic misalignment between the timing of demands of work, school, or other obligations against the innate circadian rhythm,” the academy contended, “social jet lag” can ensue. Lack of sleep in turn can lead to other problems, including obesity, depression, heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

The article concludes: “Existing data support the elimination of seasonal time changes in favor of a fixed, year-round time. DST can cause misalignment between the biological clock and environmental clock, resulting in significant health and public safety-related consequences, especially in the days immediately following the annual change to DST. A change to permanent standard time is best aligned with human circadian biology and has the potential to produce beneficial effects for public health and safety.”

All of this is to say that reasonable people can disagree.

There is no consensus right now on which to keep: standard time or daylight saving time (though most pending legislation calls for keeping DST).

But clearly one of them needs to go.

So let’s pick one and stick with it.

Either way, we wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

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