Tick tock: Why daylight saving is a waste of time

By Laura Grimm

grimmla@mnstate.edu

Sunday marks the conclusion of Daylight Saving Time (DST), an almost century-old practice that 40 percent of Americans think is not worth the hassle (Rasmussen Reports, 2012).

I’ll admit it’s nice in the fall when we get an extra hour of sleep, but I count myself among those who would rather not have DST.

Most of the world agrees; only about 70 countries have DST. Not even all of America follows the practice; Hawaii, Arizona and some territories stick to normal time.

There are reasons, of course, why this practice was started. Springing forward to DST during the summer months was thought to decrease energy consumption, provide economic benefits and lower the number of car accidents.

However, this is not entirely true. Energy is conserved in some areas during DST, but it is minimal at best—and sometimes energy use increases. In Indiana, the decreased use of electricity for light was superseded by the increased use of air conditioning (Matthew Kotchen and Laura E. Grant, 2006).

DST also increases gasoline consumption since there is an extra hour of light in the evening, and it causes scheduling headaches for airlines, leading to travel delays and lost revenue. For anyone who forgets to change their clock, it can also mean being late to church, work or their child’s soccer game.

While DST may decrease car accidents during the summer months, the switch in the fall sees a 186 percent spike in pedestrian fatalities per mile walked (Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard, 2007).

Basically, the cons of DST outweigh the pros. Further, the motivations behind it are not as innocent as they seem. From the beginning, the push for DST has been led by retail outlets and recreational businesses. Many people believe DST was started due to agricultural reasons, but this is not the case. Farmers have always been against it. We don’t like it.

In the words of my very wise farming mother, “It’s inconvenient.”

Cows don’t care about our clocks. When they feel like it’s been 12 hours since their last milking, they don’t care that the clock says it’s only been 11.

Our bodies don’t care either. DST disrupts our internal circadian rhythm, leading to fatigue and decreased concentration and memory. Some people adjust quickly, but it can take up to three weeks for others (Sleep Medicine, 2009).

Worse, during the first week after DST begins in the spring, there are higher rates of heart attacks, work-related injuries, car accidents and suicides.

Our bodies don’t like change. Instead of subjecting them to time changes twice a year—with some deadly side effects—let’s leave the clocks alone.

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