Marbleheaders weigh in on daylight saving time

Marblehead residents have mixed feelings about whether the biannual ritual of switching the clocks forward and back should continue.

Senate Sergeant at Arms Charles Higgins turns
forward a clock for the first daylight saving time

“I hate it. I know everyone I know hates it,” said Marblehead resident Merilee Wolfson. “Every year [lawmakers] want to do something — and they never follow through with it. Let’s just get rid of it.”

State Rep. Jenny Armini, Democrat of Marblehead, did not mince her words on where she stands on the issue.

“I am pro sunlight,” Armini told the Current, saying she would vote to abolish changing clocks twice annually. “It is good for our health. It’s good for restaurants and merchants. And it’s potentially good for the environment.”

DST bills on Beacon Hill

Massachusetts legislators filed bills this session to establish year-round time zones and opt out of twice-yearly clock changes.

One proposal would move Massachusetts into the Atlantic Time Zone, observed in Atlantic Canada. It would permanently keep clocks set one hour ahead, akin to permanent DST.  

A competing bill would codify permanent Eastern Standard Time and reject DST. Supporters argue it promotes better sleep by matching our natural circadian rhythms.

Unless Congress amends federal law to allow nationwide permanent DST, switching to Atlantic Time may be Massachusetts’ only path to nonstop daylight savings time.

Meanwhile, momentum is building in Congress to make DST permanent. The Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act in March of 2022, which would eliminate the “fall back” clock change in November. However, the House has not taken up the bill.

A map depicting states with laws and resolutions to provide for year-round daylight saving time. COURTESY GRAPHIC / NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES.

Retiree Carol Lloyd dislikes the earlier sunsets during standard time but wants to keep changing clocks.

“I have an hour less that I can be out and about,” Lloyd said, noting winter darkness comes as early as 4:30 p.m.

Carol Lloyd shared Wolfson’s dislike for the earlier fall and winter sunsets. Lloyd said she doesn’t mind springing forward each March because she values the extra evening daylight.  

“I have an hour less that I can be out and about,” she said of reverting to standard time. However, the Midwest native acknowledged the time change is more difficult as you age. Lloyd said many of her older friends feel less comfortable driving at night.

Wolfson said her biggest frustration with the time shift is that it gets dark earlier, which shortens her driving time.

“I can’t drive in the dark,” she said, noting she has to be home before sunset. While the change doesn’t impact her sleep patterns, Wolfson said she doesn’t think about or utilize the “extra” hour when standard time resumes each November.

Retiree Linda Greenwood wants to ditch daylight saving time altogether, too. Having lived in Arizona for over 20 years, she enjoyed not having to change her watch and said, “It was so liberating.”

The time shift negatively impacts her mood, and she feels it’s pointless, especially since research shows little energy savings.

“I just don’t see the point to it,” she said.

The time change also doesn’t disrupt Greenwood’s sleep. She jokingly said she celebrates “the party that never was” with the extra hour gained in November.

The Ben Franklin connection

According to the Sleep Research Society, the concept of DST originated with Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. While serving as an American envoy to France in 1784, Franklin was surprised to be awoken by sunlight pouring into his Paris bedroom. In a letter, he calculated the money and wax saved on candles if Parisians simply woke up earlier to take advantage of morning sunlight.

DST first emerged during World War I when Germany and Britain adopted it to conserve energy and reduce lighting needs. The U.S. then implemented it nationally in 1918 and 1942 to support the wartime effort.

After World War II, Congress enacted standard national DST start and end dates in the Uniform Time Act of 1966 due to state schedule inconsistencies. But year-round DST tested in the 1970s was quickly repealed because of hazardous dark mornings for kids.

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