HELENA — Twice a year, most of America and more than 70 countries around the world accept a random one-hour time change.
To change or not to change, that is the question.
We spring forward, we fall back. We lose an hour of sleep, we gain an hour of sleep.
Time on the clocks changes but time is neither added nor subtracted. We accept the change but debate the idea every year.
The concept of daylight saving time is to create more time with sunlight in the evening for outdoor activity, to conserve energy, and to promote business after people finish work.
But the use of daylight saving time has been found to not save much energy. And it has negative effects on health.
The Monday after the beginning of daylight saving time in the spring has higher rates of car accidents and workplace injuries, and a 10% high rate of heart attacks. It's not a result of it being light out later, this is a result of simply changing the time on the clock.
For Montana and other northern states, daylight is more scarce in the winter months when daylight standard time is in effect.
On December 21st, Montana's sunrise is close to 8:10 am with a sunset at approximately 4:45 pm. If daylight saving time were implemented year-round, sunrise would now be after 9:00 am. So on a cloudy, snowy day, it would barely be light out at 9 in the morning.
Conversely, with daylight standard time and sunset at 4:45 pm, on a cloudy day, it's dark by 5:00 pm when most people are getting off work. If Montana was on daylight saving time in the winter, there would be light for people after work.
If Montana were to eliminate daylight saving time, on the longest day of the year around June 21st, the sunrise would be approximately 4:30 am with a sunset at 8:30 pm.
So it comes down to preference: are you a morning person or an evening person? And more specifically, would you prefer even less light in the morning in winter for extra light in the afternoon when daylight is at a minimum?