Will Daylight Savings Time be Permanent?

For centuries, parts of the world has switched between DST and Standard Time each year, but there are strong incentives in both the European Union and the US to end the practice. If you ask sleep experts, there are compelling reasons to do so, but for practical reasons, implementing permanent Daylight Savings Time might take a long time.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been intensely debated in recent years. In the US, a large number of states have been determined to abolish the practice, but have lacked Federal approval. With the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, however, this may change. As of March 2022, the latest bill of the Sunshine Protection Act has been successfully introduced in Congress, but still has a long journey ahead of it before its potential implementation. You can see the current status of the Sunshine Act bill here.

UPDATE 18-03-2022: Senate has passed the Sunshine Act Bill! Now it is up to the House of Representatives and Ultimately President Biden to decide whether permanent DST will be implemented from 2023.

UPDATE 04/11.2022: The Sunshine Act Bill has not made it the House of Representatives for discussion yet. Whether the bill is going to make it in the next year is uncertain. This means Americans must change the clocks as usual.

In the European Union, too, DST has been up for discussion for a while. In 2019, the European Commission proposed to end seasonal clock changes, but the Council of the European Union asked the commission for a detailed impact assessment. Thereby they effectively put the issue on ice. As of 2022, there are no further developments.

It is only a minority of the world that uses DST. Asia and Africa generally does not observe it.

Consequences of DST

Traditional arguments for observing DST include saving energy, preventing traffic accidents, and reducing crime. However, sleep experts negate several of these arguments while presenting others in favor of fixed, national, year-round standard time.  Here are some of the topics being considered as legislators and citizens debate the continuation of Daylight Savings Time.

Increase in fatal traffic accidents: Research shows a 6% increase in risk of fatal traffic accidents following Daylight Savings Time, plausibly due to reduced alertness caused by lack of morning light.

Higher risk of Stroke: A 2015 study from Finland found that the stroke rate was 8% higher in the days following the transition to DST. For certain population groups, such as cancer patients and the elderly, the risk was significantly higher.

Detrimental to student performance: A study of public schools in Indiana compared SAT scores for schools in counties that observed DST to schools in counties that didn’t. They found a negative impact of about 16 points in schools that observed DST.

These are among the arguments that lead to a 2020 position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) to recommend abandoning 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.”

In fact, there are many countries across the globe that have already abandoned Daylight Savings time, instead countries close to the equator tried Daylight Savings Time and decided to abandon it, instead choosing to observe standard time year round. The majority of African countries have never observed DST. Curiously, the reasons to observe – and consequently the reasons to stop observing – Daylight Savings Time vary by country.

Until DST is abolished in the US and EU, taking a power nap is the best way to mitigate the negative effects of the switch. This is also the reason why many Americans observe National Napping Day on the day after the switch to Standard Time.

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Daylight saving time is ‘not helpful’ and has ‘no upsides,’ experts say. Adriana Rodriguez, USA Today.