Tom Purcell: Hey, Congress, embrace dog wisdom – stop playing with our clocks

With the upcoming “fallback” clock change, one thing makes me particularly grumpy and confused.

Last March, the Senate passed a bill that would make daylight saving time a year-round standard and end the “backward” and “forward spring” clock changes that make Americans even more groggy and grumpy than we usually are.

But the bill did not advance.

Daylight Saving Time (DST), which ends on November 6, has swayed me every fall and spring for my entire life.

First tried for seven months in 1918, Wikipedia says, DST was used for a full year for the first time during World War II. It was reused in 1973 in an effort to reduce energy consumption due to an oil embargo, then repealed a year later.

As I reported a year ago, the abrupt change in our daily sleeping habits and routines each fall and spring is linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents.

In March, when our clocks are “rolling forward”, hospitals report a 24% increase in heart attack visits in the United States.

The reverse happens in the fall when clocks are put back. Heart attack visits to hospitals drop 21%, but pedestrian deaths rise as it gets dark earlier.

Finally, last March some of our political leaders in the Senate stopped spending money we don’t need to do something about a real issue that matters.

The Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act to ‘make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023, ending the biannual clock change in a move promoted by supporters advocating brighter afternoons and more activity economy,” according to Reuters.

You would think the House and the President would jump on such a concept, because ending the clock change is something 71% of Americans agree on.

The problem is that there is little agreement on how to end the clock change.

CNN cites a poll from late 2019 that revealed three things:

• 31% of Americans prefer daylight saving time so we have more light later in the day at the expense of darker mornings, which is apparently bad for our circadian body clock, according to Universal Sci, and it will make us less healthy sleep.

• 40% prefer standard time so we have more sun in the morning, at the expense of the sun setting earlier in the evening, which Universal Sci says is much better for restful sleep.

• 28% prefer that we keep changing our clocks, as these selfish people are clearly in the business of coffee or body repair.

Frankly, I don’t know if I prefer 12 months of daylight saving time or standard time, as long as we don’t have to change clocks twice a year.

Because if we humans can finally adjust to the forced time changes every year, my dog, Thurber, never will.

Our house is built on his Labrador clock, which requires him to be fed breakfast and do #1 and #2 at the same time every morning or else my rug might have an experience unpleasant.

When I try to explain to Thurber why human beings think they can manipulate time and light, he looks at me like the human race is clearly less sensitive than a typical dog.

And he’s right.

If dogs ran Congress, we wouldn’t have to change our clocks every spring and fall.

Library freelance writer Tom Purcell is the author of ‘Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood’. Visit it on the web at

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