Twice a year, the times on our clocks change: once in the summer months, when they advance one hour forward and another in the fall, when they go backward one hour. We all dread that lost hour of sleep, that one hour closer to getting up for work in the morning and the hour of sunlight we lose. Although this may seem like a minor loss, the repercussions on mental health resulting from an earlier sunset can be debilitating, especially for those who live in a cold environment that’s already prone to less sunlight.
In the Northern Hemisphere, many, but not all, countries use daylight saving time (DST) in the summer. DST in the United States begins each year on the second Sunday in March, when clocks are set forward by one hour. They are turned back again to standard time on the first Sunday in November as DST ends. The only U.S. states that don’t participate in DST are Hawaii and Arizona according to TimeandDate.
DST originated in Canada in 1908 and was used to save energy and make better use of daylight. However, the idea only became widely popular when Germany began using it in 1916 in order to minimize the use of artificial light to save fuel for the war effort, according to TimeandDate. Despite the benefits this time change may have provided during this time period, the cons of its use in our modern world far outweigh any rationale.
Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, beginning and ending at about the same times every year, according to Mayo Clinic. Most people struggling with SAD have symptoms that start in the fall and continue into the winter months, diminishing their energy and making them feel moody.
Symptoms of SAD can include low energy and sluggishness, insomnia, increased drowsiness or other sleep problems, trouble concentrating, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, changes in weight or appetite, losing interest in favorite activities, sadness on a daily basis, and social withdrawal, according to CollegiateParent.
With this large con of DST in mind, the U.S. Senate recently passed legislation that would make DST permanent starting in 2023, ending the twice-annual changing of the clocks in a move promoted by supporters advocating brighter afternoons and more economic activity, according to Reuters. The change would help enable children to play outdoors later and reduce seasonal depression, according to supporters.
With the permanence of standard time and the ridding of a twice-yearly time change, we will have plenty of hours of sunlight year round, thus decreasing the risk for seasonal depression and avoiding the inconvenience that it provides. Although this issue is a minor one, sitting amongst talks of war, fights for equality and a variety of other worldly matters, it is something that can be solved and will have positive effects for many across the U.S., which in and of itself is a win.