Tali finds herself going to sleep at a more reasonable hour, because her clock tells her it’s already, say, midnight, when it’s really only 11 p.m. for her next-door neighbors. When a friend wants to get together, she just has to remember to add an hour to the meetup time.
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The Richardses’ 5- and 7-year-old mainly notice only when other people mention the time—which isn’t often, since they’re homeschooled. “We were doing a Zoom with the local library, and the librarian said, at some point, ‘It’s 1:20,’” Tali told me. “And my boy’s looking at the computer, and he’s like, ‘It’s 2:20.’ And that was a little confusing for the librarian. I was just like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re just doing daylight saving still.’” Because, well, no one can stop you from doing that.
More people might soon get to experience the Richardses’ schedule. A bipartisan group of senators led by Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. (Though 15 states have already voted to extend daylight saving time year-round, the change would require a federal move like this bill.) In a statement, Rubio cited reduced rates of crime, traffic accidents, and seasonal affective disorder as motivations behind the legislation, plus the fact that changing the clock is rather antiquated.
There’s no good biological reason to change the time twice a year, but most health experts support ending daylight saving time, not making it permanent. Studies show that people get better sleep during standard time, because the bright morning light and the reduced evening light make falling asleep easier. In the winter, a shift to daylight saving time would mean the sun wouldn’t rise until after 8 a.m. in many places, which could make it difficult for people who need to get to early-morning jobs and classes. Some studies show that the sleep loss induced by daylight saving time is associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes. “When you get sleep deprivation, you start getting increased adrenaline and other hormones, and inflammation that can contribute to stroke and heart attack,” says Beth Ann Malow, a neurology professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville.
Still, experts say the bigger problem for health is the changing of the clock, not the precise hour America ends up on. Scott Yates, an entrepreneur and advocate for “locking the clock,” says he’s agnostic about whether the U.S. lands on standard or daylight saving time—as long as it picks one. With the biannual time changes, he told me, “I always felt like I was getting this jetlag, without even having the benefits of traveling.”
Read: The Uneven Toll of Sleep Deprivation
After seven years of pushing to stop clock shifts, Yates thinks this year’s bill stands a chance. The Trump era is over, so not every policy is tainted by whether a controversial president supports it or hates it. “I backed off [my advocacy] quite a bit during the Trump years, because I want this thing fixed, but I want it fixed permanently,” Yates said. “And I was really afraid that Trump would fix it, and everybody would be like, ‘Oh, I don’t trust it, because it’s Trump.’”