On Sunday, Nov. 5, clocks all across the country will “fall back,” people will regain an hour of sleep and everyone will again wonder what is daylight saving time and why do we do it.
While the purpose of the practice is still confusing for most, Massachusetts state is contemplating switching time zones and forgoing the process for good. According to a draft report from a Massachusetts commission researching the topic, preserving more late-afternoon sunshine by springing ahead one hour could yield some health and economic benefits.
“Adopting year-round Daylight Saving Time would improve public health in the Commonwealth,” the report said. “And also by providing residents with additional evening daylight during the winter … would lead to increased physical activity among residents.”
Commission members cite the fact that the state’s location on the far end of the Eastern Time Zone leads to it getting darker during the winter months much earlier than places further west and when the clocks “spring forward” in March, people risk negative physical effects including a loss of productivity, decrease in memory and concentration and daytime sleepiness.
Currently, federal laws don’t allow states to completely adopt out of daylight saving time — just opt out occasionally — but by switching an hour ahead from the Eastern Time Zone to Atlantic, Massachusetts can potentially bypass the process.
Findings from the Massachusetts report haven’t done much to sway leaders into changing from the status quo especially since the report recommends that the state not shift without the support of the majority of New England. Commission member Paul Frost, a Republican state representative, says any changes could potentially disrupt financial markets, broadcast schedules and travelers.
“It’s not a conversation the governor has had with other governors,” said David Ortiz, spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo (D – RI), about the time zone debate.
When Congress set the dates in 1966, daylight saving time was meant to limit energy consumption by having people utilize sunlight rather than electricity, but with the energy efficient technology of today, more people simply find it to be a confusing nuisance.