Daylight Saving: Is it worth all the hassle?
By Nate Cohen
Every November as the colorful autumn leaves fall to the ground, people across New York set back their clocks one hour to mark the end of daylight saving time (often mistakenly referred to as daylight savings time.) While many rejoice in the thought of falling back to an extra hour of sleep, this pleasure lasts but a day before a harsher reality sets in—-the switch in clocks has only made the days darker and colder. The opposite occurs in the spring when we set the clocks forward an hour. While we may get longer days, we also lose sleep and drastically increase the number of fatal injuries. Does the extra hour in the summer sun really justify all the problems daylight saving creates? After analyzing some daylight saving statistics the answer soon becomes clear: no.
For starters, daylight saving can take a massive hit on both physical and mental health. When we lose an hour of sleep in the spring, our body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted which puts excess stress on our bodies and can lead to a variety of health consequences. According to a recent study from the University of Michigan, after switching our clocks in the spring, the risk of heart attacks increases by 24%. Daylight saving has also shown to increase workplace injuries, traffic incidents, and emergency hospital visits.
Apart from physical consequences, daylight saving also negatively affects many people’s emotional and mental health. In fact, daylight saving has been linked not only to an 11% increase in depression but also an uptick in suicide during spring and fall changes.
With all the overwhelming amount of negative effects of daylight saving, it raises the following question: what are the positive effects? Unfortunately, these are few and far between. A common answer is that daylight saving reduces energy consumption. This proposition originates from the ideas that more sunlight in the summer means people are outside longer and therefore use less artificial light. While that may have made sense in 1916 when Germany first adopted daylight saving, today data suggests otherwise.
So what changed? For one, air conditioning was invented and became widespread in homes around the world. Its use was then amplified due to daylight saving, which made it hotter for longer periods when we are awake. This drastically decreased the energy saved from daylight saving to negligible amounts; some studies report daylight saving to increased energy consumption.
The other common explanation is that it has something to do with farmers and their harvesting schedule. But this is far from the truth. In fact, farmers actually were some of the most vocal opponents of daylight saving and spent years lobbying to prevent its eventual passage in 1966. Their biggest objection was that it forced farm workers to wait an hour before getting to work. Daylight saving was even more problematic in dairy farms where the change in clocks threw off the cow’s daily milking schedule.
To put it bluntly, daylight saving is pointless. It does not help farmers, and it does not save energy. To argue for daylight saving is to argue for an antiquated system of clock-switching that dramatically increases car accidents, suicides, and depression. Instead of staying captive to this obsolete tradition, lets move to a better future—-a future without daylight saving.
Daylight Saving: Worth the time.
By Sophia Mao
Initially, Daylight Saving Time (DST) came into effect on March 31, 1918, as a wartime effort to save fuel. Although the reason why DST was implemented in 1918 is not the same reason why it is still in effect today, changing the clock by an hour twice a year is both effective and simple. The majority of Americans say that the time change does not disrupt them, and most electronics are prewired to adjust to this one hour shift, which takes effect at 2 a.m. People who travel to different countries, or even different states, have to frequently adjust to different time zones, sometimes with a twelve hour difference. But after a few days of jet lag, life goes on. When DST begins and ends, life also goes on with minimum disruption. If you still do not know where to stand on this contentious issue, consider the plentiful pros below.
For one, daylight saving motivates people to get out of the house. Longer evenings promote an active lifestyle, which would improve health and boost the local economy. According to The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, DST earns the convenience store industry an annual revenue of $1 billion. With more daylight, people are more likely to go outside. An extra hour of shopping, driving, and eating at restaurants would increase retail, gas, and food sales. In addition, studies have shown that the brain produces more serotonin, a mood-lifting chemical, on sunnier days than darker days. Because every extra hour counts, having this extra sunlight for eight months out of the year would have a considerable effect on one’s health and mood.
In addition, DST promotes safety. Longer daylight hours reduce pedestrian fatalities and automobile accidents. Such incidents usually occur at night when it is hard to see. A study by economists Jennifer Doleac and Nicholas Sanders show that robberies drop around 27% when DST goes into effect. “Most street crime occurs in the evening around common commuting hours of 5 to 8 p.m., and more ambient light during typical high-crime hours makes it easier for victims and passers-by to see potential threats and later identify wrongdoers,” they reported.
It would be a mistake to discard daylight savings. Although critics argue that it is detrimental to physical to mental health, it has proven to be beneficial. Similarly, they may argue that it reduces productivity, but it is impossible to ignore the economic and safety benefits. Daylight savings is a double edged sword, but it is a sword that’s proven to work. Since the average American is not bothered by daylight saving time, it is time to let it be and focus on other concerns that deserve more attention in today’s society.