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IT'S OUR TURN: Let's save standard time, not daylight saving time

Staff reporter Lorie Skarpness writes, "Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill that would make daylight saving time last all year, but it has not gone into effect. If the House supports the bill, this could be the last year of standard time."

 daylight saving time
Having one "time" makes sense, but scientists, sleep experts and researchers favor standard time over daylight saving time.
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On Nov. 6, the annual ritual of “falling back” from daylight saving time to standard time took place.

Setting clocks back one hour means an extra hour of sleep. In Park Rapids, the sunrise, which was at 8:09 a.m. on Nov. 5, moved up to 7:10 a.m. Nov. 6.

Sunlight earlier in the day has some important advantages. Having more light in the morning helps people wake up and get moving, since circadian rhythms are synchronized with daylight hours. It may also benefit people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

The tradeoff is that darkness comes earlier in the afternoons now. The sun set at 5:58 p.m. on Nov. 5, but on Nov. 6 set at 4:57 p.m.

With winter and colder temperatures on the horizon, outdoor activities have slowed down and most activities after work – such as running errands, going out for dinner or shopping for groceries – don’t require daylight.

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And since we are losing 3 minutes of daylight from now until Dec. 21, the amount of daylight after 5 p.m. would be minimal even on daylight saving time, where sunset Dec. 21 would be at 5:34 p.m.

There has long been discussion about having one “time” instead of switching back and forth twice a year between standard time and daylight saving time.

According to WebMD, switching back and forth changes the light cues that help determine our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. When we change the clock time, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with the new night and day cycle. The time it takes to adjust to the “new” time varies from person to person and feels much like dealing with jet lag when flying to different time zones.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bill that would make daylight saving time last all year, but it has not gone into effect. If the House supports the bill, this could be the last year of standard time.

While there are some benefits for having one time instead of switching twice a year, many experts believe that we should eliminate daylight saving time and stay on standard time permanently.

For Minnesotans, if a law passed to keep daylight saving time all year, the sun would not rise until 9:03 a.m. on Dec. 21, the winter solstice.

Dark mornings could create safety issues for children waiting for school buses and those walking to school. Research shows that during the 1970s, when the U.S. switched to daylight saving time during the winter in an attempt to save energy, it was short-lived because of these reasons.

A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1975 found the use of daylight saving time only decreased national electricity usage by one percent compared to standard time, so the winter daylight saving time act was discontinued.

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The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a call to ban daylight saving time and stay on standard time permanently because it aligns best with human circadian rhythms and benefits public health and safety. The proposal has been endorsed by more than 20 medical, scientific, and civic organizations, including the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Safety Council.

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Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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