The U.S. Senate has awakened to the need for us to stop adjusting our clocks twice a year. I hope the House rises to the occasion and makes daylight saving time permanent.

It’s surprising how much debate this issue generates. People feel strongly about it. What it seems we can all agree on is the desire to stop flip-flopping. In fact, that’s the basis for many of the arguments against the Senate bill. Opponents say losing an hour each spring leads to an increase in traffic accidents, workplace accidents and even heart attacks. But those concerns are really about the time shift, not DST itself. One 2009 study, for example, found a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries the week after the start of DST, which researchers ascribed to the disruption in sleep cycles. But that study didn’t return to measure the same data in July or August, after sleep cycles had adjusted.
 
More to the point, those studies overlook the realities of daily life. A nation that seriously wanted to avoid supposed ill effects of losing one hour of sleep one night of the year would never do things like travel across time zones, or stay up late working, reading or watching TV. We suspect that the best thing our nation could do to protect healthy sleep is not to ban time changes, but to get rid of the “play next episode” countdown on Netflix.

The effects of the Senate proposal will not be uniform. The closer Americans live to the western edge of their time zone, the more mornings they’re going to get out of bed before sunrise. The closer they live to the eastern edge of their time zone, the more dark evenings they will have. Dallas will have darker mornings than Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa, Ala. But we’ll also enjoy longer evenings.

Southern states will benefit most. How many times have we envied our friends enjoying long summer evenings with mild weather in northern states, while it’s too hot for us to step out of our air-conditioned caves here in Texas? With year-round DST, we’ll get the advantage in winter and spring, which bring some of the most pleasant weather of the year. 

That’s what this comes down to: whether we want brighter mornings or longer afternoons. Do you prefer an extra hour of daylight before or after work and school?

Yes, kids will have to go to school in the dark more days than they currently do. But they’ll also get more time to be outside than they currently do, something children sorely need.

Year-round DST means more daylight for family walks, visits to the dog park, patio dinners or outdoor sports, all of which are healthy activities.

We tried this in the early 1970s and it didn’t last. Perhaps we’ll try this again and it won’t work. But we think it’s worth a shot.

The Texas Legislature toyed with this idea in 2015 and again in 2019, but never passed it. I am hopeful that government will stop hitting the snooze button on this idea.

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