Daylight Saving Time: Is This the Last Time We Fall Back?

Sunday: Spring Forward, Fall Back. . .

This weekend, I’ll be waking up to one of my favorite days of the year: a government-sanctioned 25-hour Sunday. Forget birthdays, forget my anniversary; heck, forget the magic of Christmas. On Sunday, I’ll get to do a bit of time traveling as most of the United States transitions out of daylight saving time back into glorious, glorious standard time. I may be a standard-time stan, but I’m no monster. I feel for the die-hard fans of DST. With the push of a button, or the turn of a dial, most Americans will be cleaving an hour of brightness out of their afternoons, at a time of year when days are already fast-dimming. Leaving work to a dusky sky is a bummer; a pre-dinner stroll cut short by darkness can really be the pits.

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I don’t want to minimize the nuisance of the time shift. Toggling back and forth twice a year is an absolute pain, and many Americans cheered when the Senate unanimously passed a proposal earlier this year to move the entire U.S. to permanent daylight saving time. But Katy Milkman, a behavioral scientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the host of the podcast Choiceology—who, by the way, loathes the end of DST—told me we can all reframe the autumn clock change “as a windfall.” Sunday will contain a freebie hour to do whatever we like. Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at Stanford, will be spending his at the farmers’ market; Ken Carter, a psychologist and self-described morning person at Emory University, told me he might chill with an extra cup of coffee and his cats. I’m planning to split my minutes between a nap and Paper Girls (the graphic novel, not the show).

For years, some researchers have argued that perma-DST would cut down on other societal woes: crimetraffic accidentsenergy costs, even deer collisions. But research on the matter has produced mixed or contested results, showing that several of those benefits are modest or perhaps even nonexistent. And although sticking with DST might boost late-afternoon commerce, people might hate the shift more than they think. In the 1970s, the U.S. did a trial run of year-round DST … and it flopped. (Most of Arizona, where Rodriguez Esquivel lives, exists in permanent standard time; she told me it’s “really nice.”)

Realistically, many of us will just end up snoozing right through the bonus hour. Which is totally fine. I’m considering that plan, too. The only losers in that scenario will, alas, be my cats. They do not follow the clock changes, legislation be damned; a 25-hour day is to them a scourge if it means that I sleep in, and breakfast arrives a full hour late. In that event, they, unlike me, will eat when the clock decrees, and not a minute sooner.y

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