Clock face with focus on center. Time concept.
Credit: isak55 / Shutterstock

As most of the country prepares to fall back to standard time on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, at 2 a.m., the age-old debate about the purpose and relevance of daylight saving time (DST) persists.

Daylight saving time was originally introduced as a wartime measure during World War I and later reinstated during World War II. Though briefly adopted year-round in 1973, President Gerald Ford reverted to standard time in 1974. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 solidified the bi-annual clock changes that Americans now observe.

Recently, 29 states introduced legislation aimed at ending the DST practice in 2023, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Connecticut has in the past, but didn’t tackle the issue this year. 

While most of these efforts stalled or failed, states including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, and Tennessee have enacted resolutions or legislation pertaining to DST. Others, such as California, have authorized change, but with no subsequent legislative action.

However, for states to permanently opt for standard or daylight saving time, Congress needs to enact a federal law, or states need to obtain permission from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Several bills proposed in Congress this year aim to halt clock adjustments. Notably, Sen. Marco Rubio introduced the Sunshine Protection Act of 2023 in March, advocating for permanent DST starting in November. Despite bipartisan Senate support, the bill remains in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Reps. Mike Rogers and Ralph Norman introduced separate bills calling for DST year-round. Both bills remain in the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce.

The primary objections to year-round DST include children waiting for buses in predawn darkness and the discrepancy of time observance across states. However, proponents argue that adjusting school start times and coordinating regional changes could address these concerns.Research underscores health concerns related to clock changes. A 2014 study in the journal Open Heart found an increase in heart attacks on the Monday following the switch to daylight saving time in the spring.  A 2001 study in the Sleep Journal  found an increase in motor vehicle accidents on the Monday following the spring shift and the Sunday night before the fall shift.