We all hate feeling jetlagged. That groggy, tired feeling is the unpleasant result of long-distance travel.
The concept of social jetlag works in a very similar manner. The term refers to the reactions observed in people’s bodies that are similar to travel-related jetlag, which stems from a person’s circadian rhythm (or internal clock) being thrown off. Social jetlag can also lead to a higher risk of obesity, cardiac issues, and strokes.
Twice a year we are forced to change the times on our clocks, causing not only the annoyance of a day of social jetlag and sleep-deprived work, but also engendering a host of small-but-noticeable negative economic, psychological, and health effects.
Some scholars also estimate that the U.S. economy suffers an annual economic loss approximating 2% of GDP due to productivity declines. A whole day of fatigue every March not only feels awful, but is costing our economy. In addition, fatal traffic incidents have been observed to increase by around 6%, and vehicle collisions with wildlife also go up by around 8–11% because of the transition.
Negative effects aside, people agree that something should be done, with 71% of Americans supporting putting an end to changing between daylight saving time (DST) and standard time. But they disagree on what we should have instead. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago determined that Americans are split, with 40% in support of standard time while 31% support permanent DST.
In 2022 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the Sunshine Protection Act. The Sunshine Protection Act, which passed quickly through the Senate without debate but then died in the House, would have set daylight saving time as the year-round default starting in autumn 2023. Under current law, clocks change twice each year, with daylight saving time beginning in March and ending in November. The Senate bill would end an 80-year tradition of seasonal clock switching. States could remain on standard time instead, like Arizona and Hawaii do currently, but they would have to stick with it all year.
Rubio and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat-Key) have reintroduced the Sunshine Protection act, to once again make permanent DST an option for states. But neither the Senate or the House have acted upon it as of yet.
Florida, where Rubio hails from, was the first state in 2018 to pass a bill that would apply year-round DST once the Sunshine Protection Act is passed. Seventeen other states — Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, resolutions or voter initiatives.
Texas is missing from that list currently, but it’s not for a lack of effort. Numerous attempts have been made in previous sessions to try and end Washington D.C.’s time change mandate, but none have made it further than a committee hearing. Disagreement over which time zone Texas should adopt is often what holds these bills up.
The Texas legislature introduced two bills in 2021, House Bill 1405 and Senate Bill 471, proposing the Lone Star State permanently observe either DST or standard time. Neither passed.
This session has already seen 15 bills introduced to end the time change, 8 giving the choice to voters, 6 to make DST permanent, and one to make standard time permanent. This shows there is growing political will behind ending the time change, but what we have lacked is pressure on the legislature to act on these matters, as the effects and anger caused by the time change are effervescent, despite their magnitude.
For too long we have had to deal with the biannual time adjustment and endure the consequences that come along with it. A yearly day where we all have to deal with social jetlag is not only a personal headache but has far reaching consequences for the economy and society. It’s time for the Texas Legislature to stop the clock change and give Texans some consistency. Call your legislator or your senator, and tell them to hand the choice to the Texan people so they can decide what time they want to stick with year round. Let’s establish “Texas Time” for the whole year and end the archaic and detrimental policy of changing the time.