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Massachusetts may change its time zone for more sunlight
It's probably a futile effort, but Massachusetts lawmakers are thinking about changing the state's time zone. There's something parents should remember about that. - photo by Herb Scribner
Massachusetts has taken its first steps in a potentially bold move to change its time zone.

Lawmakers of the Bay State have proposed a bill that would allow the state to follow the Atlantic Time Zone, which is used by parts of northeastern Canada, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, instead of its current Eastern Time Zone, according to MassLive.

In fact, state Sen. John F. Keenan, a democrat from Quincy, Massachusetts, has sponsored bill S.2040, which would require a study of switching to Atlantic Time, MassLive reported.

The bill, which had its first public hearing on Tuesday, would study the economic and health effects of switching time zones, CBS Local reported. If passed, lawmakers would study these effects and report back with their findings in 2017, CBS reported.

Right now, Massachusetts follows the Eastern Time Zone like much of the Eastern seaboard and states. But, as a CBS meteorologist explained, the sun sets in Massachusetts and other New England states earlier than other Eastern Time Zone states. Moving clocks ahead by an hour would offer Massachusetts residents an extra hour of sunlight.

This bill got its start when Massachusetts resident Tom Emswiler wrote an opinion piece for The Boston Globe in which he advocated for the time zone change since Massachusetts' night seemed to come too soon, especially as residents turned their clocks back with the switch from daylight saving time at the end of October.

As sunset creeps earlier its down to 6:19 p.m. today in Boston were already dreading what happens a month from now: Clocks turn back, Emswiler wrote. The first Sunday morning, its fantastic. An extra hour of sleep! Later that day, though, the honeymoon ends. Why is it pitch black before dinner?

Emswiler told MassLive he was surprised the bill garnered so much support from lawmakers.

Parents, though, are a little unsure about changing time zones, especially because of how it would put schoolchildren in danger, according to Western Mass News.

In the morning, it would be darker and with all the kids going to school. Anything could happen," Delilah Rivas told Western Mass News.

But there may be some benefits for the family from longer days, as Emswiler pointed out in a tweet.

Emswiler isnt wrong in his claim. Researchers from the Review of Economics and Statistics found that extended daylight hours could lead to fewer robberies in communities, which would put children and families at less risk for criminal violence.

"If criminals are less likely to offend in broad daylight, and schedules relative to clock time are mostly fixed (as for those with 9-to-5 jobs), the amount of ambient light at key hours could affect public safety, which suggests society could reduce the overall social costs of crime by simply shifting the clock," the report said.

Still, Massachusetts Rep. Aaron Vega told WesternMass News that he doesnt see the bill going too far.

Regardless of what happens with the bill, its important for parents to recognize that time changes whether because of daylight saving time or from families moving to another time zone in the country can have a profound effect on a childs sleep patterns, as Payton Davis wrote last month for the Deseret News.

Daylight saving time, for example, offers Americans an extra hour a sleep, which seems like cause for celebration. But in reality, it can hurt ones sleep rhythm, Davis reported.

"What's important to note about the time change, though, is that it can disrupt normal internal sleep rhythms and bodily systems like metabolism because we are no longer in sync with our external environment when it gets light and dark out and can end up feeling jet-lagged," according to "The Today Show."

As Davis reported, experts said that time changing like this can also cause children to lose sleep and become more stressed, which in turn causes them to act up and be impatient.

What to Expect, a parenting advice website, suggests parents practice patience until their child, no matter the age, adjusts to the new time zone they find themselves in.

Childrens rooms should also be pitch dark during the transition period so that their bodies adjust to night time and they get the proper amount of uninterrupted sleep, What to Expect explained.

Parents should also embrace the silver-lining in switching time zones by embracing the extra amount of daylight they get in a day, since itll help them spend more time with the family, according to What to Expect.

Look on the bright side. Sunlight may play a key role in resetting the internal body clock, so spend as much time outdoors as you can once youve arrived at your destination. It can help ease jet lag in toddlers and big people too.
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