Daylight Savings Time: Not Worth Saving


At 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 6, the majority of the nation will be turning their clocks an hour back, marking the end of the annual tradition of Daylight Savings Time. Extended nearly a month this year in a nationwide effort to save energy, you really have waited longer for that extra 60 minutes of sleep this year. As we “Fall back,” the return of Standard Time shows that the benefits do not outweigh the costs, and that the lost hour does nothing more than create a nation of groggy and confused citizens.

As the International Business Times reports, The Energy Policy Act of 2005 altered the Daylight Savings Time period by nearly a month. Beginning in 2007, clocks were set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the first Sunday of April, and set back one hour on the first Sunday in November rather than the last Sunday of October. All this in a seemingly useless attempt to save energy.

Daylight Savings Time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, when he would awake with the sun already up. He mused why not wake up at the same time as the sun, in an effort to save candle-use at night. However, it was not until 1918 that a Daylight Savings law was first enacted, in an effort to save costs on artificial lighting and thereby save coal for war effort during World War I. During World War II the U.S. made Daylight Savings time mandatory for the whole country, as a way to save wartime resources.

Since, DST has been optional for all states. Arizona, Guam, the U.S Virgin islands still operate on Standard Time. These states have opted out of DTS, for the extra time in the sun would do nothing to reduce energy costs, especially with air conditioners operating in these states' steamy climate for one extra hour. It was only recently that Indiana adopted Daylight Savings Time.

A report published in 2008 by the United States Department of Energy concluded that four weeks extra of Daylight Savings Time could conserve 1.3 trillion watts-hours per day, enough to power 100,000 homes a year, according to the Scientific American. However, warmer states like California seem to disagree. Like Arizona, the California government website argues against the findings, claiming that the extra hour in air conditioning during the sweltering summer months would outweigh whatever gains the extra hour of daylight would yield.

As one article noted, after the switch in Indiana, the electric bills actually increased.

Not only does the switch prove to be a blow to your energy bill, but it could actually make you sick.

As National Geographic reported, Till Roenneberg, a chrono biologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, found in his studies that our circadian body clocks, which are set by light and darkness, never adjust to gaining an "extra" hour of sunlight to the end of the day during Daylight Savings Time.

"The consequence of that is that the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness, and is just plain tired," Roenneberg said.

Suffering from a perpetual “social jet lag” Roenneberg attributes DST as one possible explanation why so many people in the developed world are chronically overtired. In other words, their optimal circadian sleep periods are out of whack with their actual sleep schedules, and shifting daylight from morning to evening only increases this lag.

Adding insult to injury, a national survey by Rasmussen Reports, found that 27% of people admitted that they had been an hour early or late at least once in their lives because they hadn’t changed their clocks correctly.  

All that … and lose an extra hour of sleep. Daylight Savings Time … who needs it?

Photo Credit: niseag03