Nov. 6 will mark the end of daylight savings time across the continental United States with the one exception of Arizona—the only state to not follow daylight savings time. However, the Sunshine Protection Act, introduced in March of 2021 by Florida Senator Marco Rubio could change all of that. The bill would ensure that the new standard time around the entire United States would be daylight savings time.
For those who only know the time distinction as “fall back” and “spring ahead,” daylight savings time is the period of time that runs from spring through summer and into fall. During this period of time, the country is one hour ahead. The traditional benefit of this system is that it preserves daylight during the day—hence the name daylight “savings.” With sunset delayed an hour it makes for longer days in the warmer months. An argument in favor of the change of time presented by Rubio is that it gives children an additional hour of sunlight after school which will allow for safer trips home, more time spent outdoors and other health benefits.
However, every coin has two sides, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has listed some issues with a permanent erasure of standard time for daylight savings time.
According to the AASM, standard time is the time most closely associated with the circadian rhythms within our bodies. We wake up with the sun beaming down and fall asleep with the dark cover of the night sky over us. This is how our bodies are tuned when placed in an original and natural environment. In defense of standard time, the AASM has said, “When we receive more light in the morning and darkness in the evening, our bodies and nature are better aligned, making it easier to wake up for our daily activities and easier to fall asleep at night. Daylight saving time disrupts our internal clock, leading to sleep loss and poor sleep quality, which in turn lead to negative health consequences.” They even noted that with more darkness in the morning that the level of car crashes, accidents and fatality rate of said accidents will increase as well. This would be due to sleep loss and decreased visibility in the morning.
Both sides make powerful cases for their idea of the perfect way to measure time throughout the day. However, what are people if not the social beings that we are? We desire more time in the day and more hours of light to spend with friends. Let us not forget that time is a concept we created to measure our days. What can be a natural circadian rhythm can also be an altered one! As college students, it is truly depressing to walk into a 3:30 p.m. lecture with sunshine and after one hour or more of class walk out to a dark dreary landscape. It is understandable that some want the sun to be up when they are, especially since the sun would not rise in New York in January until 8:30 a.m. But it is when we try to make society natural that we lose the idea of what society is. It is a reflection of human attitudes and for those, like us, who desire a longer day with later sunsets, we stand by the Sunshine Protection Act.
So as we head towards this change in clocks make sure you are taking care of yourself. Seasonal depression is common in individuals ages 18 to 30 when there is a shift in the number of daylight hours between seasons. As we begin to take finals and receive rubrics for group projects, make sure you are also prioritizing your individual health both mentally and physically. This time of year is stressful. You’ve got exams and projects, the flu, no more long weekends and now less daylight. It’s a culmination of a lot of stressors that can trigger an individual. But know that you will get through it. You will get through that test and even though it may be stressful you’ll learn something from it. And yes, this may be the last daylight savings, but it will hopefully lead to positive sleep and health consequences. Look for the silver linings in these difficult moments and know that while they may suck in the moment it is only temporary.