Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins this Sunday, March 10 at 2 a.m. That means that most of us will lose an hour of sleep as we spring forward an hour. Aside from making Monday particularly difficult, does it actually do any good?
Well, Washington, D.C. likes to think so. That’s why it extended DST by a month in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. It turns out, though, that lighting only accounts for 12 percent of our energy consumption. That means that the total energy savings in energy consumption from DST ends up being around 0.03 percent. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s because it isn’t.
Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff, two economists at Berkeley, conducted a study about DST in Australia. What they found was that any possible energy savings that might occur at night is offset by the additional energy people must use in the morning darkness.
The U.S. first adopted DST in 1918 as a way to help individuals go to work and school during daylight hours and as a means to save electricity. It actually worked for energy savings at that time because Americans' primary source of energy came from electricity. That is no longer the case.
In addition to not actually providing us with any worthwhile energy savings, it also reaps havoc on our bodies.
We rely on circadian rhythm to help regulate our bodies systems; they help determine our sleep patterns. When we are forced out of that 24-hour cyclical rhythm our bodies tend to respond negatively.
To put it another way. Our body is made up of nearly 100 trillion cells. Each of these cells possess a little biological clock. Now, imagine each of those clocks being abruptly disrupted. That’s what DST does to us and it can take weeks for our bodies to recover.
That’s why in the weeks after DST doctors see an influx of heart attacks and many of us experience disruptions in our sleep patterns.
Until it is decided once and for all that DST is arbitrary and that it doesn’t actually save energy, we will be forced to listen to news broadcasters remind us about it every hour until 2:00 a.m. this Sunday, March 10.