During the winter in Massachusetts, the sun rises as late as 7:13 a.m. and sets as early as 4:12 p.m.. There are only nine hours of daylight and 15 hours of darkness.
Arguing this situation could be harming the state’s economy and making residents more unhappy, some are calling for Massachusetts to give up its Eastern Standard Time hours in favor of Atlantic Standard Time, the next time zone over. The move would put the state an hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast for four months starting in November.
If this happened, Massachusetts would join a small club of North American places that do their own thing on time zones, including Nova Scotia and Puerto Rico.
The measure is now being studied by the Massachusetts state legislature. The idea was submitted by public health advocate Tom Emswiler, who, reasonably enough, wants more daylight in the afternoon when we need a little Sun boost. Governor Charlie Baker, however, does not support the measure, citing the disruption that might be caused if Massachusetts was out of step with the Eastern seaboard.
The case for longer daylight hours rests with research showing that people are happier and more productive when exposed to natural light. Though it’s a myth that Scandinavia’s suicide rate spikes during its long days of darkness (actually they’re slightly below global averages), studies show that some people feel less energetic and purposeful in wintertime (though the “winter blues” phenomenon may be exaggerated).
As well as gaining daylight hours, the shift would also avoid the sluggishness that comes from losing an hour’s sleep in the spring, when the clocks go forward. But it may be more practical for the whole East Coast to change time zone, rather than just a single state. It would be weird to go from New York to Boston and have to fix your watch at the border.
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