i think that its a great idea to just get rid of it all together because seasonal effective disorder is common when your losing daylight and also it hurts when your getting depressed from low vitamin d levels.
Photograph by Adam Burton/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis
Published November 1, 2013
Clocks "fall back" this Sunday, November 3, and people are again asking: Why do we bother with daylight saving time?
The latest Rasmussen Report from March 2013 found that only 37 percent of Americans surveyed thought daylight saving time (DST) is "worth the hassle," while 45 percent said it was not.
Tufts University professor Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, said such opposition has been around for a century.
"The whole proposition that you can gain or lose an hour is at best theoretical," he said. "So I think from the start people had no clear idea what we were doing or why we were doing it. It just generates confusion, and confusion generates bad will."
Beyond simple confusion and inconvenience, opponents make many cases against continuing to observe daylight saving time. (Related: "Daylight Saving Time 2013: When Does it End? And Why?")
No Energy Savings
From the early, humorous musings of Benjamin Franklin to the first widespread implementation of daylight savings during World War I and into the present day, observing DST has had a foundation in energy savings.
Lighter evenings mean lower demand for illumination and electricity, the theory goes. But studies question whether daylight saving time produces any gains at all—and some suggest it may have the opposite effect.
Indiana, once home to counties that both did and did not observe DST, adopted the practice statewide in 2006.
That unusual event meant Matthew Kotchen, an environmental economist at Yale, and colleagues could compare before-and-after electricity use across the state.
In their 2008 National Bureau of Economic Research study, the team found that lighting demand dropped, but the warmer hour of extra daylight tacked onto each evening led to more air-conditioning use, which canceled out the gains from reduced lighting and then some: Hoosiers paid higher electric bills than before DST, the study showed. (Related: "Extended Daylight Saving Time Not an Energy Saver?")
During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, parts of Australia extended daylight saving time while others did not.
Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, and colleagues found that the practice did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings—but that higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.
Wolff found regional differences in DST energy impacts, but paints an overall picture that's not positive.
"Everywhere there is air conditioning, our evidence suggests that daylight saving is a loser," Wolff said.
"If you don't have air conditioning, it could be a slight energy winner, but not overall in the United States. In 2007 we extended DST by one month in the U.S., and in that one month it turned out to be basically a zero-impact event." (See "Six Stealthy Energy Hogs: Are They Lurking in Your Home?")
In terms of energy savings, Downing said, Wolff's and other studies are no longer in much dispute: It's clear that DST doesn't save energy in the big picture.
Part of the story that is often ignored, he added, is the energy required to get people from place to place—gasoline. In fact the petroleum and automobile industries have always been huge supporters of DST, Downing said.
"When you give Americans more light at the end of the day, they really do want to get out of the house. And they go to ballparks, or to the mall and other places, but they don't walk there. Daylight saving reliably increases the amount of driving that Americans do, and gasoline consumption tracks up with daylight saving."
Hazardous to Your Health?
Shifting our clocks an hour naturally makes for a few groggy mornings, but some research suggests a far more dangerous impact to our bodies—an increased risk of heart attack. A 2012 study by University of Alabama at Birmingham's Martin Young found that the risk of heart attack surges by 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead an hour each spring.
"Exactly why this happens is not known but there are several theories," Young said in a statement accompanying the study.
"Sleep deprivation, the body's circadian clock, and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone's health."
The research reinforces 2008 findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that in Sweden, heart-attack risk rose just after the spring time change.
"The most likely explanation to our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythms," lead author Imre Janszky, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, told National Geographic News in 2010.
Fortunately, these scary statistics may be balanced by the return to standard time, according to Young's research, which also found that heart-attack risk decreases 10 percent when clocks fall back.
"Just Plain Tired"
Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, studies less dramatic but cumulative and possibly critical impacts to our body's natural relationship with light and dark.
His research suggests that the human body's circadian clock, kept in tune by light and darkness, never adjusts to the changing chronology of DST. (Also see "Jet Lag Cure for Mice Illuminates Inner Workings of Circadian Clocks.")
"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 told National Geographic in 2010.
Shifting a daylight hour from morning to evening only increases "social jet lag," Roenneberg explained, in which people's actual sleeping schedule is out of whack with optimal circadian sleep periods, making them chronically tired. (See: "Leap Year: How the World Makes Up for Lost Time.")
"Light doesn't do the same things to the body in the morning and the evening. More light in the morning would advance the body clock, and that would be good. But more light in the evening would even further delay the body clock."
Our health may benefit, however, from a quantifiable boost in recreational activities that goes along with lighter evenings. Hendrik Wolff and colleagues were among several groups to document this phenomenon, in their case using data from a nationwide American time-use study.
"We found that during the period of the 2007 [daylight] extension, people engaged in more outdoor recreation and less indoor-TV watching," he said. "An additional 3 percent of people engaged in outdoor behaviors who otherwise would have stayed indoors."
Cash is king, and economics have always played a role in the politics of daylight saving time. Over the past 50 years, DST has been stretched from six months to seven months to now eight months in part because several industries have been huge supporters. In the mid-1980s, for example, the golf industry estimated that an extra month of DST was worth $200 to $400 million.
During that same time the U.S. barbecue industry pegged their increased profits at $150 million for that same additional month.
Farmers Against DST
With any controversial subject, there are sure to be groups for and against. In the case of daylight saving time, it's often difficult to sort out which are which.
For some reason, many Americans grew up believing that the practice was adopted for farmers, Downing said.
"That's the complete inverse of what's true," he said. "The farmers were the only organized lobby against daylight saving in the history of the country," he said, explaining that the practice left them with an hour less sunlight to get crops to market.
"The farmers were the reason we never had a peacetime daylight saving time until 1966. They had a powerful lobby and were against it vociferously."
Many farmers still don't like DST, including some dairy farmers, who find that cows' natural milking schedules don't adapt easily to a sudden shift.
Religious, TV Opposition
Downing noted that a number of religions with prayer times depending on sunrise or sunset also object to DST because they don't like to have holy days fooled with—particularly among Orthodox practitioners.
"That echoes the original objections with daylight saving," he said. "The idea that we were fooling around with God's time and this was the mechanized world's way of somehow taking over God's world.
"Another group that's traditionally been opposed to it are organizations like the PTA and people concerned with schoolchildren," Downing noted.
"It has been expanded by a month every 20 years or so since the mid-1960s, and now we start to get daylight saving time in the late winter/early spring and in the very late autumn. This means that our sunrise times are so late that schoolchildren are out on dark streets in the morning, and that raises objections among parents of schoolchildren."
Downing's research also suggests that studies of increased traffic accidents and injuries, which variously support or condemn the practice of daylight saving time, don't really show enough of a difference to be statistically significant in a nation where more than 30,000 people are killed in traffic accidents each year.
The TV industry, Downing said, is also among the practice's opponents. "If you look at the Nielsen ratings during the first week of daylight saving, no matter when it is, even the most popular shows go down by 10 to 15 percent in viewership."
And Utah State University economist William F. Shughart II has estimated that the simple but inconvenient act of changing America's clocks and devices back and forth represents an annual $1.7 billion of lost opportunity cost.
Shughart's rough estimates were based on the average American's hourly wage and an assumption that each person spent some ten minutes changing clocks, watches, and other devices—time that could have been far more productively spent.
Daylight Saving Time Here to Stay?
The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated a controversial month-long extension of daylight saving time, which began in 2007. A White House petition to end DST entirely stalled earlier this year because it failed to garner the required number of signatures, and Congress isn't currently exploring ending the practice, so it seems here to stay—at least where it's observed.
Because the federal government doesn't require states or territories to observe DST, Arizona—except for residents of the Navajo Nation—Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands will ignore this weekend's switch.
This type of mishmash is common around the globe, creating the confusion that may be one of DST's biggest problems, according to critics. Most Asian and African nations avoid DST altogether. South America features a mix of different DST and non-DST schedules even among neighboring nations.
And while most of North America and Europe observe DST, all those nations don't change clocks at the same time, creating further discrepancies. "Every country tries to make their best switching dates based on their best beliefs," Wolff said.
Meanwhile, the passionate debate on the subject, at least, is likely to continue as it has for a century—even where facts linking DST to a given behavior are thin to nonexistent.
"Daylight saving has been credited with speeding up production in industrial plants and lessening eye-strain among school children, and it has been blamed for forcing homemakers to prepare dinner during the hottest hours of the day and browning out lawns unaccustomed to so much sunshine," Downing said.
"As you can imagine, the Congressional Record on daylight saving constitutes the great comic novel of the 20th century," he said.
"It's absolutely fascinating what daylight saving been blamed for and credited with over the years."
OK First off your lawn will get exactly the same amount of sunlight so that has absolutely NOTHING to do with DST. That has got to be one of the dumbest things written out. DST is comparable to someone cutting off their feet and sewing them to their head in order to look taller. Dusk gets later in the summer time anyways why bother pushing the clocks back an hour???
Technically, those areas aren't "ignoring this weekend's switch", we are now joining them in standard time. They ignore the spring switch, as we all should do.
If he lives in the South and he should not have a concern but I think he has never lived in the North countries like from North America or Central to Northern Europe. It's not about saving energy or anything but about people don't have to wake up to go to work when it's still black dark, cold and snowing outside. The daylight is shorter in Winter and longer in Summer, that is the only reason.
Let's dump it, creates problems with many different industries and benefits no one. Let's stick with standard time year-round.
I think it's usefulness has passed. The farmers are right. Livestock do not tell time by the clock and do not live by DST therefore it is not natural.
Absolutly hate the time change. Pick one & stick with it. Watching the sun come up in the morning is thrilling as it is going down in the evening. Just beautiful! Lighting a camp fire one hour earlier or later makes no difference to me. Just leave the time alone and don't make our bodies adjust to this insanity
wow, after 20min's searching I finally got a better sense of what DST really is... pardon me cause I'm Chinese and know nothing about it before ( our country simply changes people's schedule rather than change the clock, like our high school's afternoon study hour begins at 2.30PM in summer and 3PM in winter!)
I lived on the East Coast for 30 years (since birth) and was used to DST. I then moved to Indiana, where they didn't change it; yes, it took a little getting used to, but I was fine with it. The only issue I had with not changing (not really an issue) was having to keep reminding my Mom, who lives on the East Coast, which time zone I was in during a given part of the year, since she just couldn't grasp the concept by stating "Your brother lives in Iowa, farther west of you and they change time." Yeah, I know. I gave up trying to explain it to her after a couple of changes.
Personally, I'd rather we didn't change. There is no reason for it. The odds of us stopping? Not that great. It was a battle that raged for years in Indiana to allow the state to change. Now imagine the battle on a national scale. Nope, don't see it happening. Unfortunately.
I read a comment not long ago. Is it insanity to believe that if you cut a foot off the bottom of a blanket and sew it on the top you have a longer blanket?
That's how I feel about DST.
I guess that I am just weird. I can't see how or why changing the time an hour makes any difference to the body at all. I am one of those who can sleep at any time. Make it semi-dark in the "sleeping place" and I can do it. I have had jobs where I would sleep for four hours, then work for four hours then sleep for four hours, etc. for 24-48 hours at a time. I use to drive truck in the two-man "sleeper" system. My wife, however, has a terrible time with the time changes. I have worked days and nights, rotating shifts, work with no "shifts", just get the job done. If you notice, there is more than "DST" time shifts during the year. Why no complaints when it is darker in the morning in December that it is in June? Look at the charts. As for the farmers, especially the dairy farmers, when the "time" changes, just keep milking at the same "solar" time as you always did. You don't have to be at a job at 8:00 in the morning. Do the job at the time that is most "convenient" for your cows. As above, the dawn isn't at the same time every morning during the year. How do the you and the cows compensate for that.
I guess that in this forum I am the "odd man out", but live with it (DST).
We should mention also that the reason Americans believe that DST was started because farmers wanted it is because this was the propaganda put out by those who supported it. The majority of Americans are not "thinkers" that is to say people who think for themselves. They are lazy when it comes to keeping an eye on their representatives in goverment and accept what is being told to them. War propaganda is the worst because it defames an entire nation of people most of who are just trying to get along in a hostile world. For examples take a look at how the American Japanese were interred in WWII, this was pure racism for if it were not then German Americans would have been interred as well. Today the issues of the day are not discussed, rather how bad the other side is and so we decline as we did when we accepted DST. Obamacare is being beaten to death by republicans, food stamp money has been reduced and yet NOT A WORD ABOUT THE 25 BILLION DOLLARS BEING GIVEN IN FOREIGN AID. Its so bad we wear "green glasses" to lift our spirits.
Once again we see the human bipod strutting around, beating his/her breast declaring that it knows best regarding Mother Nature. DST is an affront to nature and it does in fact upset the circadian clock within us. We notice it both in the spring and in the fall. It should be done away with for good so that people can stay tuned to the rythem of nature, and not someone who flew over the cookos next in an attemt make a name for himself. In regards to the auto industrys support because people will drive more, what we need is the opposite in order reduce gas comsumption. As for the farmers they were right all along for it not only upsets their circadian rythem but also their animals including the rats that hang around for a free handout. People who work will notice the difference in the first two days, but people who are retired may notice that regardless of the time they usually get up, they will wake up an hour earlier or later depending upon whether it is fall or spring....for weeks or until the time changes again. Lets DUMP IT and get back in some ways at least to nature.
Here's a second comment: A Native American said, "Who but a White Man would think that cutting the top off a blanket and sewing it onto the end would give him a longer blanket?"
I don't like to use the word "hate" but I am tempted to use it regarding DST. As someone raised on a farm, I am perhaps more attuned to nature's functioning than average and I emphatically wish we had one time, year around. The only time of the year I am truly comfortable is the precious few months we now have left after the clock goes back to normal.
It is not healthy to have to experience time change. When I was in the military, we had wild shifts in work/sleep time and from experience I learned words like hypomania (a type of craziness associated with irregular sleep and too much light) to explain my own and others strange behaviors up to and including temporary psychosis. Airline pilots and train engineers who work crazy work schedules experience drops in reflex-time and other effects that the rest of us most likely experience to a lesser degree following time change, which is essentially a type of jet-lag equal to changing one time zone.
There is no reason sufficient for me to believe we need DST, and many more reasons for me to wish we didn't have it.
Most people in England like the light evenings in summer for leisure, gardening etc. if we were more flexible in working hours we could have our own anyway. DST is only getting up an hour earlier! You cannot really change the clock. Local time is just that -local. Travel to the west of even the UK and you notice the difference at sunset.
I think we might consider in the Uk staying on European time but that would require all Europe not changing the clock twice a year.
It would make economic, health and other sense, to turn back the clock
an hour in March every year ( in part of the northern hemisphere ); as
the day lengthens until the Summer Solstice ( June 2o something ).
Then turn the clock back to Standard Time until March ( spring ? 20
something ) of the next year. It would have a refreshing effect on
people, no ?
The animal and plant kingdom will love you for it. The human
kingdom will do something right for a change, other than of course
just reverting back to Standard Time in the first place !
Think of Stonehedge, the Pyramids and so on.
Never mind the farmers objecting-as an insulin dependent diabetic I find the loss or gain of an hour to my basal insulin a complete pain-it disrupts my blood sugar levels for several days until it all settles down again!
Sign this whitehouse.gov petition to end DST:
The most sensible idea I've heard is do away with DST and reduce the number of time zones in the U.S. from 4 to 2. It's described here: http://qz.com/142199/the-us-needs-to-retire-daylight-savings-and-just-have-two-time-zones-one-hour-apart/
It does not matter I think... just correct me if I'm wrong....because whether you experience DST.... it is still just the shade of the sun absorbed by the moon; and time just happens in different regions of the world.... I think it all depends on how our body is used to the feeling of night and day...
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has campaigned for decades to make lighter evenings a reality.
The England seems to be headed in a differenct direction. They ended DST last week and their new storys provide a different view. "Separate studies released today showed 70 per cent of the UK are opposed to turning the clocks back, and two-thirds of parents believe the time shift gives their children jet-lag symptoms for a week afterwards."
Further, T"he Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has campaigned for decades to make lighter evenings a reality."
"RoSPA believes more daylight on autumn and winter evenings would save lives, and cites Department of Transport research which showe around 80 deaths and at least 200 serious injuries would be prevented on our roads each year if the UK switched to GMT+1 in winter GMT+2 in summer. "
Various articles suggest that cafes and shops do better in daylight filled afternoons. in the UK the sun sets in the mid afternoon in winters and well after 9:00 pm in the summers. They are seeking to balance it out.
Whatever the solution, I would like to think that by acting alone no country will make it more confusing for the rest.
How about we get rid of standard time, and go with daylight savings time all the time. I love the afternoon sun, but couldn't care less if its lighter earlier in the morning. Just my 2 cents.
@Crystal Carey Maybe due to watering schedules? This does appear to be a daft statement but possibly some detail was pulled that would allow it to make more sense.
Interesting how a discussion of DST morphs into a discussion of internment of people during the Second World War. I don't want to get in to a discussion of that particularly, but I would guess that El Gabilon was not an adult at the time of the Japanese attack on the United States. One has to remember the conditions of the country at that time. Don't always look back at the past with the views of today.
That said, I also believe that the internment of the Japanese citizens was wrong, and even more so what happened to their property after they were released.
But the main reason for this post is to correct a gross error in the above post: ",,,this was pure racism for if it were not then German Americans would have been interred as well." German Americans WERE interred as well. Please read the following quotation:
"At the start of World War II, under the authority of the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, the United States government detained and interned over 11,000 German enemy aliens, as well as a small number of German-American citizens, either naturalized or native-born. Their ranks included immigrants to the U.S. as well as visitors stranded in the U.S. by hostilities. In many cases, the families of the internees were allowed to remain together at internment camps in the U.S. In other cases, families were separated.
The population of German citizens in the United States – not to mention American citizens of German birth – was far too large for a general policy of internment comparable to that used in the case of the Japanese in America. Instead, German citizens were detained and evicted from coastal areas on an individual basis.
A total of 11,507 Germans and German-Americans were interned during the war, accounting for 36% of the total internments under the Justice Department's Enemy Alien Control Program. In addition, over 4,500 ethnic Germans were brought to the U.S. from Latin America and similarly detained."
There were also several hundred Italians arrested and interned during the war. So, as opposed to the false statements above, Germans, as well as Italians were interned during the war for "security" reasons. This again shows the lack of education that is being foisted off on Americans as education in the schools today!!
@El Gabilon Oh I wrote below first, then I got to thinking about your rhythm theory. Do you know what other health issues daylight savings time might create? First- Seasonal depression, less light after work could be a direct cause. Think about it you will get zero sunlight for six months during a working day. Second- Weight gain, if you are exhausted you will eat more, you eat more you gain weight. Third- Migraines, I suffer from migraines and since the clock change yesterday I have had one. It is very important to get the same amount of sleep every night, plus with change in sleep pattern comes increased caffeine. Productivity is down because people are down. It is a waste of time, and the only reason it has been kept around is in that article: Economics. Time to tell the greedy bastards no.
@El Gabilon I agree about the gas, I don't agree about Americans not being thinkers. First this is done in many countries, SURPRISE NOT JUST AMERICA way to read the article. Nobody now a days accepts what the government tells us, we have been lied to too much. So yeah things have to change, why don't you lead the way. Or better yet let's find something a bit more important than daylight savings time to insult each other over shall we?
As for education, I see importance in it, I mean we should know who our government put into concentration camps (call it what you want to call it) however did you know more Chinese are suffering from dementia than ever before, I mean like 27 or 28 year old people. I wonder if that has anything to do with the excessive technology they are exposed to? Oh wait that's right it is a direct result, it is a lack of complete development of the brain. Socialization, problem solving and creativity are all parts of the brain development. I don't think being a bit behind is hurting us. As a matter of fact there is one thing they don't test and that is common sense. I believe America has a great deal more common sense, of course this is solely based on those foreigners I have spoken with.
@Jim Ross I was just about to post that. Great idea.
@Kevin Norte And we should then drop G from GMT, since Greenwich will no longer have the sun near the Meridian at local Noon. While we are at it, drop AM and PM, since the Meridian will be irrelevant .
@Abe Yoffe This is the most promising solution and yet the only place it can be found is in the comments section of the tired debate over which side of the day is best for daylight. It'd be nice if one of the national polls would offer this as an alternative to ever dealing with the issue again.
@ben briggs That's what I'd prefer.
@ben briggs Full-time DST would be the next time zone, and it strikes me as completely ridiculous for everyone to fiddle with clocks and pretend to be in the next time zone for any part of the year. Rather than living in make-believe time, wouldn't it make more sense to just change business hours? Many businesses have different winter or summer hours, and they do just fine. Also, it seems scientifically backwards to throw out the agreed-for-hundreds-if-not-thousands-of-years convention that at noon the sun is roughly at its highest point.
"Time Zones" as I am sure you know, are totally a creation of man. Or should I really say, totally a creation of the Railroads. They were the one who really pushed for the creation of what we now call time zones. It helped their scheduling.
Have you ever looked closely at a map of the United States which show the Time Zones? Not exactly dividing up the country evenly, are they? Ever thought about why? Why not "even" time zones. This is the way the railroads wanted it.
So, as DST is not "natural", neither are the arbitrary Time Zones. So that is life. A lot of man made or devised stuff that are added to our lives, and even though we may not like them, we live with them.
@Wayne Cooke @ben briggs
Time zones conquered the difficult problem of dealing with train schedules where every locale with a different longitude had its own correct -- and distinct -- solar time. It was a compromise that significantly shifted time for anyone near the edge of a zone.
My argument against DST is that we should not make one "necessary" evil more so. A lot of man-made or devised stuff has been added to our lives, including asbestos heat ducts and baby bottles made with BPA, but it doesn't mean we should or must live with them.
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