Robby Lewis-Nash sat on a bench in Fort Sumner Park on a recent evening, reading a book and taking in the last minutes of sunlight.

“It’s really nice to get out of work and still be able to enjoy some daylight outside,” he said.

The 27-year-old Portland resident is among those who support a proposal to stick to daylight saving time year round, resulting in lighter evenings and darker mornings in the winter months.

“I’m definitely pro keeping it lighter later in the afternoon,” Lewis-Nash said.

Emily Barnes of Portland pets her dog Roomie on the edge of Ft. Sumner Park on Wednesday evening. Barnes said she is in favor of the U.S. Senate’s vote to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent across the United States starting in 2023 and mean Americans would no longer have to change their clocks twice a year, springing forward an hour in March and falling back an hour in November.

The bill still awaits approval by the House and would need President Biden’s signature to become law.


But it’s already gained support from many Mainers as well as the state’s congressional delegation. Shifting to permanent daylight saving time, proponents say, could benefit businesses and agriculture, and would allow people to exercise and work outside later in the day. There are also health impacts associated with changing the clocks, though one medical expert said that, while he supports eliminating the clock changes, our biological clocks are better aligned with standard time than daylight saving time.

“I think it would be kind of a no-brainer at this point,” said Noah Tomah, 23, of Portland, who supports the shift to permanent daylight saving time and spoke to a reporter about it in Monument Square. “The climate is changing so rapidly. I was just telling my roommate I’ve already noticed things are starting to bud and there’s a different smell in the air like it’s already spring. At this point we’re getting shorter winters and longer springs … so it would be a no-brainer to make it a permanent thing.”

Tomah, a line cook at Sur Lie on Free Street, said business also is better when it’s lighter later. “If it’s darker and cold, we aren’t going to get as many walk-ins. … A little bit lighter evenings and more mild nights are better for business,” he said.

Daylight saving time is defined as a period between spring and fall when clocks in most parts of the country are set one hour ahead of standard time. It was originally enacted in the U.S. following Germany’s 1916 effort to conserve fuel by lengthening daylight hours during World War I, and its duration has since been extended.

Congress in 2005 extended daylight saving time from six months to nearly eight, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. As a result, the U.S. now has four months of standard time, from November to March. The country also has experimented before with year-round daylight saving time, including from 1942 to 1945 and from 1974 to 1975.

The Sunshine Protection Act would eliminate the changing of the clocks to standard time during the winter months. In Portland, where the sun rises around 7:15 a.m. and sets around 4 p.m. on the shortest days of the year, the proposal would shift sunrises to around 8:15 a.m. and sunsets to around 5 p.m. States, including Arizona and Hawaii, and territories that currently remain on standard time year-round would continue to do so.


Many people see the benefits of sticking with daylight saving time, but there’s little research on how such a change might impact the body, said Christopher Murry, a doctor at the Maine Sleep Institute at Maine Medical Center. Murry said changing the clocks, especially in the spring, has a host of health impacts including increased risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.


He supports eliminating the time changes but thinks sticking with standard time would be best. “If you look at our biological clocks, they’re more aligned with standard time rather than daylight savings time,” Murry said. “What daylight saving time does is it tends to shift our biological clock later in the evening.”

Noah Tomah of Portland supports the bill that passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday to make daylight saving time permanent. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

When people are staying up later in the evening and still waking up at the same time in the morning to meet social and occupational demands, they’re getting less sleep or insufficient sleep, which can lead to “social jet lag,” Murry said.

Social jet lag is the chronic misalignment of work, school and other obligations with the biological clock, he said. “Social jet lag itself has its own elevated risks, which are basically … cardiovascular effects, motor vehicle accidents, mood disruption.” He also pointed to concerns some people have raised about children going to school in the dark and the increased risk of motor vehicle accidents that could happen if mornings stayed darker later.

“If we’re in chronic daylight saving time and looking at kids in school, we’ve done all types of work in the state of Maine to have delayed start times so our kids can get sufficient sleep. By going to chronic daylight saving time, we kind of negate that whole process,” he said.


Asked if the shift to daylight saving time might help people who struggle with seasonal depression during the colder, darker winter months, Murry said he wasn’t sure how much of an impact extra daylight at the end of the day would make and suggested a better solution might be to artificially manipulate light to boost one’s mood.

“There are ways to manipulate light (to address seasonal depression),” Murry said. “The group you’re talking about often uses light boxes in the morning and such to be able to help their clocks or their seasonal depression symptoms.”

Toby Pydych of Old Orchard Beach said in Monument Square that he supports the proposal that passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday to make daylight saving time permanent. In his family, he said, the practice of changing the clocks twice a year “throws our minds off.” Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


Members of Maine’s congressional delegation and the executive director of the Maine Farm Bureau say that sticking with daylight saving time permanently would be a benefit.

“It’s time to end the practice of moving our clocks twice a year, which has been linked to higher rates of accidents, depression, and other health issues,” Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement. “Daylight saving time also has been shown to save energy and allows Americans who work a standard work shift during the day to enjoy more daylight in the late afternoon for exercise or leisure activities.”

“Like many Maine people, I’m tired of 4 p.m. sunsets and time-change whiplash that throws our collective routines out of whack,” Sen. Angus King said in a statement. “The advantages this back-and-forth system brought over a century ago are mostly gone, and the complications to our households and global economy have only magnified over time.”


Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, is co-sponsoring the House version of the Sunshine Protection Act.

“In Maine, ‘falling back’ means weeks of sunsets before 4 p.m.,” Pingree said in statement. “Making daylight saving time permanent nationwide means more time for kids to play outside after school. It means we will finally be rid of this imbalance imposed on us twice a year. It’s clear making this change has broad bipartisan support in Congress and across the country, and I’m happy to help make it happen.”

Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, also supports the idea. He said Maine passed a law in 2019 expressing interest in year-round daylight saving time, and that he also supported a bill to make a similar time change when he served in the Maine Legislature.


Many farmers support sticking with daylight saving time, said Julie Ann Smith, executive director of the Maine Farm Bureau. Smith said it’s a myth that the changing of the clocks was originally implemented to accommodate those who work in farming and agriculture.

“We are in high support of this because – especially for livestock farmers – that transition is very difficult on the animals,” Smith said. “Trying to get them to milk an hour earlier or an hour later is very hard on them. We would be in full support if there was no change during the course of the year and it stayed daylight saving time all the time. That would be great.”


Sen. Donna Bailey, a Saco Democrat, sponsored the 2019 bill Maine passed into law that would make daylight saving time permanent in Maine if federal law allows for year-round observation of daylight saving time. Bailey is pleased to see the issue before Congress.

She said her husband originally encouraged her to advocate for the change at the state level. “He said, ‘Why do we keep changing the clocks? What is the reason?” Bailey said. “I looked into it and there really was no reason.”

As she did research, Bailey said, she learned of the negative effects the changing of the clocks can have on health. She was reminded of the issue this week when she read about a school bus driver in Topsham who had a medical emergency Monday morning while driving, resulting in students having to steer the bus to safety. Authorities have not suggested that his death was related to the time change, but Bailey said she couldn’t help but wonder.

“I have to say I thought of this immediately when I read that story … ” she said. “I was like, ‘This happened right after daylight saving time. I wonder if that had an effect.’ We need to stop doing it because it does harm. I could never get anyone to explain to me why we keep doing it.”

Ryan Harkleroad pushes son Miles on the swings at the playground on the Eastern Promenade on Wednesday. Harkleroad said he was in favor of the U.S. Senate’s vote to make daylight saving time permanent. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer


Several Mainers expressed similar sentiments in Portland this week.


Toby Pydych, a college student from Old Orchard Beach, said during a walk through Monument Square that having the change occur during his spring break this year meant it was easy to adjust, but, “I think the whole idea of changing the time is outdated a little bit. I don’t see much of a downside to (getting rid of the change.) I know at least in my family … having that change throws our minds off.”

Ryan Harkleroad, who was pushing his 3-year-old son, Miles, on a swing on the Eastern Promenade Wednesday night around 6 p.m., said they were enjoying being outdoors at an hour that a few weeks prior wouldn’t have been possible because it would have been too dark. “We’re active. We’re outdoors as much as we can be – and that period of the year where it’s dark really early, it makes it more challenging,” said Harkleroad, 42.

Anna Barron catches a flying disk from Nathaniel Baca on Wednesday at Eastern Promenade. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Nearby, Nathaniel Baca and Anna Barron were throwing a frisbee. “This is the first time I’ve hung out outside past 5:30 since the fall,” said Barron, who works as an office manager for a construction company. She said it might be difficult for construction, which usually starts early in the morning, to stick with the same schedule all year if the change to permanent daylight saving time occurred, but she also sees a benefit.

“It would be better for me, personally,” said Barron, 22. “I’m not as awake in the morning and it’s tough when it gets dark at 4 p.m. and you’re still doing stuff.”

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