In early March, Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, filed a bill which would introduce a year-round daylight savings time. This bill would have Americans setting their clocks forward one hour in the spring, and have them remain there throughout the year, giving us another hour of light in the winter. While this bill is controversial due to the nature of traditional timekeeping practices throughout the United States, it is a cause that many Americans could get behind.
There are few feelings better than the first week after setting your clocks forward in the spring and relishing in the feeling of soaking up an extra hour of sunlight after a long, cold and dark winter. The idea of a later sunset has many Americans extending their days and being more productive, instead of feeling tired at 4 p.m. because the sun has set, as is the case in Maine for much of November and December. Suddenly, a neighborhood is still up and about outside at 6 p.m. because there is still a sliver of sunlight left.
Daylight savings arises from exactly what the name describes — a way to save daylight in the summer and get “more” time to work in the day. Enacted in the early 1900s, daylight savings has long since been embedded in American culture and for some citizens is something that they look forward to because it is a physical way to see the changing of the seasons. After all, nothing says ski season like 10 hours of sunlight a day.
However as technology has advanced, the need to switch our clocks seems almost obsolete, as most jobs that require daylight can also be done in controlled environments at night time. A report published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization stated that daylight saving switches do not actually decrease overall energy usage, as many bills in support of daylight savings argue. In addition, a Rasmussen Report from 2013 found that 45 percent of Americans surveyed thought the switch in time “wasn’t worth the hassle.”
Setting clocks back in the wintertime also wreaks havoc on many Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that impacts individuals throughout the winter months, due to cold weather and lack of sunlight. While treatments for SAD include light therapy, the proposal of an extra hour of daylight in the winter months might just be a more concrete way to help support the millions of Americans who have this condition.
As I step outside to enjoy watching the sunset at 7 p.m. tonight, I think about all of the benefits that come with the extra hours summer gives us and how Americans should consider rethinking the antiquated roles we have placed upon the concept of time in our nation for the sake of a convenience that no longer has a purpose