The grumbles of losing an hour of sleep in March give way to the joy of gaining an hour of sleep in November each year in Illinois. However, if some state lawmakers have their way, the annual ritual of moving clocks will end.
Seven bills have been filed in the Illinois House to set the state on either standard time or daylight saving time year-round.
“It’s something that I figured might be coming down the pipe and I figured I’d throw my marker out there,” said state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield. “There is some research that goes both ways that shows time changes do have some health impacts. I think we need to do the research (before choosing an answer).”
Butler and David Welter, R-Morris, have filed bills that would keep Illinois on standard time, the time Illinois is on in the winter. State Reps. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield; Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich; Tom Morrison, R-Palatine; and Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, have filed bills to make daylight saving time, the time the state is on in the summer, the new standard.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, filed a resolution to urge Congress to adopt daylight saving time permanently for the entire country.
If Illinois switched to daylight saving time, the latest sunrise in Springfield during the winter would be 8:16 a.m., but the earliest sunset would be 5:33 p.m., according to timeanddate.com. If there are no other changes outside Illinois, the state would be on Eastern time in the winter instead of central time.
The continental United States has four time zones — Eastern, central, mountain and pacific.
“Permanent daylight savings time would mean Illinois businesses would have 365 days of sunsets at 5 p.m. or later. Especially post-COVID, our restaurants, retail, and other small businesses could all benefit from the increased foot traffic and commerce that would happen if people had daylight hours after the workday ends,” Morgan said.
Butler says the state should adopt standard time because it better reflects the body’s natural time rhythm. If that happened, Illinois would be on the mountain time in the summer, with Springfield’s earliest sunrise coming at 4:29 a.m. and latest sunset at 7:30 p.m.
“That’s one of the disadvantages of going to standard time year-round,” Butler said. “I think what you do personally is one thing and you have to take that all in total... I’m somebody that gets up (at 5 a.m.) so I like when it’s light outside so I guess early risers would benefit from (earlier sunrises). But I think that’s to my point that there’s pros and cons each way on this.”
Butler and Morgan agree with Sosnowski’s resolution that action should be taken at the federal level.
“Let’s have a larger discussion about this. As I’ve read the history of savings time and standard time, I don’t want to get back to a situation where (the federal government has to step in). I think this is an issue that is better solved on the national level, but as states are driving it, I think we have a role to play,” Butler said.
In 2019, the Illinois Senate adopted a measure sponsored by former state Sen. Andy Manar, at the urging of Carlinville High School students, by a margin of 44 to 2 to make daylight saving time the new standard time.
Morgan also said he was inspired to write a bill pushing for daylight saving time by a senior citizen from his district who had a hard time dealing with early darkness at her retirement community in the midst of the pandemic.
In the past week, Georgia House members passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent in the state while senators passed a bill to abolish daylight saving time. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not follow daylight savings time.
On March 9, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate with a bipartisan group of senators to make daylight saving time the nation’s new standard time. Illinois could join 15 other states, not counting Hawaii and Arizona, that have already passed legislation to move to daylight saving time all year.
An act of Congress is required for a state to move to daylight saving time permanently. States can exempt themselves from daylight saving time and choose to only follow standard time without Congressional approval, however.
Despite many lawmakers on both sides advocating for some type of change, it’s not clear how likely change could happen. Rubio’s bill makes it more likely changing the clock ends nationally instead of Congress debating measures in individual states. However, Rubio has introduced his bill in prior years with little progress.
Butler said he doesn’t think lawmakers will take action on the issue during this General Assembly, but hopes the introduction of the bills creates more discussion for future action.
The practice, which began across the country in 1967, is considered an energy saver because less lighting is required during the time people are awake. However, a study conducted when Indiana adopted daylight savings in 2006 found it actually increases electrical usage by 1% and costs the state an additional $9 million. A 2007 nationwide study also found it saved the country less than 1% of electricity.
“I think people would prefer a longer workday post-COVID,” Zalewski said, who is in favor of daylight saving time. “We’re never going to return to a normal work and our ideas of energy consumption and what they look like are going to be fundamentally changed.”
People in the medical community also have opinions on the subject, which costs people an hour of sleep every March. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported “seasonal time changes should be abolished in favor of a fixed, national, year-round standard time.”
“Sleep is a restorative process,” said Dr. Manjeshwar Prabhu, HSHS Medical Group sleep medicine specialist. “All of the stress and difficulties we face daily are remedied as we sleep. That is why it is so important to practice good sleep techniques.”
HSHS recommends using the tired feeling on Sunday morning to make adjustments to their sleep schedules and what they do to get to sleep.
Morgan also added the time change has been “linked to increases in car accidents, heart attacks and strokes, and depression and mental illness.”