Why Daylight Saving Time means a little more in Michiana

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:18 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - This is your reminder that Daylight Saving Time happens Sunday morning, so it’s time for our clocks to spring forward an hour.

Indiana has a unique history with the time change tradition, especially for us living right near the border between two time zones.

From the early 70s through the mid-2000s, people didn’t need to worry about changing their clocks if they lived in South Bend, as they were one of many counties that were exempt from following Daylight Saving Time in the Hoosier State.

That changed in 2006 after Indiana passed legislation to make all 92 counties observe the time change, whether they were on Central or Eastern time.

“That ultimately kicked off the complicated conversation of what’s the right time zone for us. So, overall Indiana decided to pick New York feeling our business was more oriented toward the east coast, and a few of the counties in Indiana picked Chicago,” said South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea.

Six of the twelve counties that stuck with central time are in Northwest Indiana, including Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter and Starke counties. The other six are at the southwesternmost tip of the state.

Rea says the split up makes business sense, especially when you take a look at commuting patterns out of St. Joseph County, whose neighbors run on two different time zones.

“A lot less people are going from St. Joseph County to Laporte County than are going from St. Joseph County to Elkhart County. If St. Joseph County was on a different time than Berrien, Elkhart, or Marshall County, I think this would be a much bigger issue. We have a few people that go to LaPorte but not that many,” he said.

After the Sunshine Protection Act failed in the House last year, federal lawmakers are reintroducing the bill that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent, ending the need to change clocks.

It’s unclear if it will have enough support to make it through the house this time, but one of the physicians at Beacon Medical Group says it could be better for our health if it does.

“If there were a change in the law so we didn’t have to go through Daylight Saving, I would expect some of the things that we’ve talked about—the increase in heart attacks, or the increase in car accidents that happen the week after Daylight Saving, would go away or certainly diminish,” said Beacon Medical Group Family Physician Dr. Christopher Hall.

While people miss out on sleep all year round for any number of reasons, this time change is the only time of year that everyone loses sleep and has to adjust to a new sun schedule all at once.

“It’s something that we all have to go through and many of us are going to experience the effects of it,” Dr. Hall said.

There’s pretty solid research suggesting that sleep deprivation can lead to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure, and Dr. Hall says the average person will get 40 fewer minutes of sleep when the clocks spring forward.

This is enough to impair performance at work, make you feel sluggish, and even cause digestion issues.

A strategy to get ahead of this is to wake up and go to bed an hour earlier tomorrow to account for the changing time and sunrise.

Dr. Hall suggests using light to help your body naturally wake up earlier and getting rid of light in your home to keep from staying up late.

“The light has an effect on your brain that triggers it to wake up and start functioning quicker than it normally would,” he said.