Just days after Americans set their clocks ahead one hour on March 13, the United States Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent, by unanimous consent. If it is signed into law, the act would take effect on March 16, 2023 when the United States would spring forward for the final time. That November, instead of falling back an hour, Americans would simply continue to use daylight saving time. Though the bill still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and then signed by the President, it has attracted bipartisan support.
With daylight saving time having been a contentious topic on campus for years, The Michigan Daily spoke to members of the U-M community to find out if the Sunshine Protection Act has support from the Wolverines as well.
Engineering senior Kevin Li said, while adjusting to daylight saving time is an inconvenience, eliminating it altogether did not seem realistic and might inadvertently cause other problems.
“Overall, I felt like daylight savings was a good idea in concept by trying to save energy costs,” Li said. “When you are hit with a truckful of assignments and exams, having that extra hour is just convenient.”
This is not the first time U.S. lawmakers have tried to implement permanent daylight saving time. In the 1970s, Congress passed a law making daylight saving time permanent for two years to reduce energy consumption in light of the global energy crisis. However it was highly unpopular with Americans because it resulted in darker mornings and failed to reduce energy consumption; the law was repealed a year later. Though it seems Congress is ready to give permanent daylight saving time another try, critics of the Sunshine Protection Act argue there are better alternatives.
Anita Shelgikar, associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, said turning the clock forward permanently could have a negative impact on one’s circadian rhythm, which in turn could affect their physical and mental health.
“Light is the most powerful regulator of our internal clock, also known as our circadian rhythm,” Shelgikar said. “When the clocks on the wall shift forward during daylight saving time, our exposure to morning sunlight decreases (which makes it harder to wake up) and our exposure to evening light increases (which makes it harder to fall asleep). However, the times at which we must wake up for work, school and other commitments do not change.”
Health experts suggest permanent standard time is preferable to permanent daylight saving time. Permanent standard time would entail falling back one final time in November and eliminating the next year’s “spring forward,” generally resulting in brighter mornings and darker evenings.
Permanent standard time would avoid another “spring forward,” which Hitinder Gurm, a cardiologist at Michigan Medicine, said might be beneficial to students who start school early in the morning.
“My only worry for Michigan is that we are in the extreme west of the EST zone,” Gurm said. “This would skew the morning to a really dark time, and I wonder about the safety for children walking to school in the winter. Perhaps their school can start later in the day.”
For this reason, LSA junior Max Freeland said he supports the Sunshine Protection Act. As a student employee who works early morning shifts in the athletic centers on campus, Freeland said he is exhausted when the U.S. “springs forward” and he has to wake up even earlier. Regardless of if the U.S. chooses to permanently stick to daylight saving time or standard time, Freeland said changing the time at all does more harm than good.
“It’s time we stayed on one set time,” Freeland said. “Nobody cares if we stay on permanent standard time or permanent daylight savings time, we just need to pick one and go for it … I’m really excited to finally get rid of the whole back-and-forth stuff.”
Daily News Contributor Jonathan Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.