- The US Senate passed legislation to make daylight-saving time permanent starting in 2023.
- The bill would still need to be approved by the House and President Joe Biden to become law.
- Some parents are already excited at the prospect of never changing their clocks again.
Every November, Americans in 48 states “fall back” an hour to standard time. Come March, we “spring forward” to daylight saving time.
But changing our clocks may become a thing of the past. On March 15 2022, the US Senate passed legislation to make daylight-saving time permanent starting in 2023. The bill would still need to be passed by the House and signed by President Joe Biden to become law, but it has started a conversation about changing clocks regardless.
Two states don’t change their clocks. In 1968, Arizona moved to stay on Mountain Standard Time year-round. Hawaii has stayed on standard time year-round since 1945.
While some parents are excited by the possible change, saying that changing the clock either way can mess up their kids’ sleep until their bodies readjust, sleep experts argue that staying on daylight-saving time might not be the best choice, since it could disrupt our circadian rhythms.
Parents are excited about the prospect of permanent daylight-saving time
Chelsea Pascoe, a mother in Pine Beach, New Jersey, said that she dreads the time changes and that she’s thrilled at the prospect of ending them.
“This year, my 2-year-old refused to go down for her normal nap time, because it was technically too early for her, and her body wasn’t ready. This resulted in her falling asleep on the couch at 4 p.m. and a small meltdown when we woke her up after 45 minutes,” Pascoe said. “To make things even more enjoyable, that mini-nap resulted in her refusing to go to bed and crying hysterically until 10:30 p.m.”
“Time is a construct. Baby sleep is not,” said Keema Waterfield, a mom in Missoula, Montana.
She said her 3- and 6-year-old children sleep poorly for a month after each change, leading to restless nights, confused appetites, and mood swings.
“I don’t care which way the time goes, standard or daylight, just that it stays there,” Waterfield said.
Alex Estrada, of Santa Barbara, California, said he’d enjoy an extra hour of light in the evening with his family year-round. “Our favorite time of the year is spring and summer when the sun shines later into the day — we enjoy our backyard, take a stroll through town, or walk around the neighborhood,” said Estrada, who has two children in grade school.
The problem with daylight-saving time
Avoiding the switch between standard time and daylight-saving time may be a good idea, said Andrea Spaeth, an assistant professor and laboratory director at the Rutgers Sleep Lab.
But Spaeth said daylight-saving time isn’t optimal for our circadian rhythms: Exposure to daylight in the morning triggers a signal to the brain that it’s time to be alert, while avoiding exposure to light in the evening signals it’s time for sleep. Standard time aligns with this system better than daylight-saving time, and that’s especially true for children, Spaeth said.
More light early in the morning helps children wake up and be more alert as they head into school. The body also starts producing melatonin, in preparation to go to bed, as the sun goes down. Delaying the sunset could cause disruption in sleep for children. Sleep is especially important in children as it helps their mental and physical development.
Jessica Eastman Stewart, a mother in Oakland, California, said that whether the US shifts to permanent daylight-saving time or to permanent standard time “matters less to me than just ending the nonsense of changing back and forth twice a year.”
“Every time we spring forward, my children end up waking up so late that we struggle to get them to school on time. When we fall back, we end up awake way too early in the morning,” and everyone is tired and grumpy at night, she added.
If daylight-saving time becomes permanent, Spaeth recommends investing in blackout shades. She added that providing kids plenty of time outdoors during the day and limiting that time after dinner would help keep their circadian rhythms aligned with their schedules.