Why do we change our clocks for daylight savings time? Because it’s the law.
Daylight Saving Time 2022 ends this Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 a.m. For most people, that means you should plan on changing your clocks on the night of Saturday, Nov. 5, turning them back a full hour; you’ll “gain” an extra hour of sleep or possibly enjoy another hour of fun Saturday night.
Computers, TVs and cell phones will automatically update at 2 a.m. but you’ll want to manually set any other clocks back one hour. We always “spring forward” when DST begins and “fall back” when it ends.
Daylight Saving Time, also colloquially referred to as “daylight savings time,” begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday of November. Clocks are on “standard time” the rest of the year.
But despite some confusion on social media, Daylight Saving Time is not becoming permanent (or ending) next year.
In March, the U.S. Senate approved a bill known as the Sunshine Protection Act to make daylight saving time permanent nationwide. But the legislation stalled in the House, which has not yet scheduled a debate on the topic.
“I can’t say it’s a priority,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill earlier this year. “We have so many other priorities, but it doesn’t mean because it’s not a priority that we’re not trying to work on it. We are.”
So until the House acts on the stalled legislation, most of us will continue changing clocks twice a year in 2023.
Daylight Saving Time was first established during World War I to conserve fuel for war industries. The law was repealed after WWI ended, but was re-established by Congress during World War II due to energy consumption and became U.S. law in 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, establishing uniform start and end times within standard time zones. The policy, regulated by the Department of Transportation, aims to save energy, reduce traffic fatalities, and reduce crime.
DST is not observed in Hawaii and most of Arizona, but because the Uniform Time Act mandates Daylight Saving Time, any other state that wants to be exempt from changing its clocks every year must get congressional approval. More than a dozen states, including New York, have introduced legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent but have not moved forward at the federal level.
“Research and studies have indicated that moving clocks forward one hour in the spring and back in the fall can negatively affect the safety, health and well-being of the public,” New York State Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-47) said in a bill proposed in 2020. “Observing daylight saving time year round can lead to energy savings and reductions in crime and traffic accidents and increased economic activity, which helps businesses and the economy.”
Some health experts have opposed making daylight saving time permanent, calling it a “bad idea.”
Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a neurologist at the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center, told NBC: “If we do this, it’s essentially dosing the entire United States with jet lag — permanent jet lag.”
Scientists argue ending clock changes could especially be harmful to young students, leading to more seasonal depression, learning struggles and physical health problems.
“If the House were to pass the Sunshine Protection Act in its current form, then for the first time in 40 years, the United States would experience daylight saving time in winter,” “Generation Sleep” authors Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright wrote in The Washington Post. “The sun would rise unnaturally late, particularly in the northwestern part of every time zone: 9 a.m. in parts of Texas, 9:15 a.m. in Indiana, 9:45 a.m. in parts of Michigan. Students wouldn’t see the sun until well into their school day. This experiment happened in the United States in 1974. People found it so painful, it was abandoned after one winter.”
Daylight Saving Time was kept after World War II because Americans were believed to use less energy by extending summer daylight into the evening. However, a 2008 Department of Energy study found that DST reduces annual energy use by just 0.03 percent, and another study by the University of California-Santa Barbara found DST might even increase energy consumption.
If nothing else, DST provides a good reminder for people to check their smoke detectors when they change their clocks. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York says that 60 percent of home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms.