End the madness of Daylight Saving Time

Published 8:11 pm Friday, March 8, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

It’s time once again to “spring forward” — and lose whatever stability in your sleep pattern you’ve regained since Nov. 4.

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Daylight Saving Time kicks in at 2 a.m. — or should we say 3 a.m. — Sunday, eliminating an hour of sleep and adding an hour of sunlight to our evenings for the next eight months.

DST is one of the weirdest habits we have as a nation. Once a year, hundreds of millions of U.S. residents reschedule their days to pretend like a full hour of time disappeared. Then, eight months later, we all agree to magically make the hour reappear again. It serves no real purpose and it’s not at all clear why we still do it.

To benefit farmers? No, it actually messes with their schedules.

Because candles used to be really expensive? Even if that theory has anything to do with why this insanity began, it’s a laughably ridiculous reason to do it in 2019.

Because it saves electricity? It never did and it never will. That idea is why we were forced into modern DST by Richard Nixon in 1974. But the environmental benefits are all myths that have now been debunked more times than there are episodes of Mythbusters.

DST was first used in 1918 and 1919 as a half-baked strategy to conserve resources during World War I. It was used again during World War II for the same purpose. But we are no longer locked in a war with Nazis for the future of the planet. Nor is it proven that such a weird move really ever helped win a war.

There’s no clear reason for continuing the DST madness year after year. But there is a very clear negative effect of doing so: Every March and November, we mess with something that shouldn’t be messed with — our perception of time — and give millions of people minor episodes of jet lag in the process.

Many people love seeing sunsets at 9 p.m. in summer. And they look forward to the second Sunday in March as the day when winter finally, epically dies. That’s all great; we’ll admit, we love long summer nights, too. But we don’t have to engage in stupid fake time travel to make it happen.

Congress could end it with legislation that counteracts the DST act passed in the 1970s. But if passing simple, common-sense legislation is too difficult for our federal lawmakers, maybe we the people could fix it instead.

Let’s put it to a vote and end the endless switching back and forth once and for all. The country could vote on Election Day 2020 — or 2019 if we really kick it into gear — to go with standard time or daylight time. The vote would be winner takes all — whichever time gets the most votes would become our new permanent time. Sanity would be restored and everyone would sleep better at night.