Every fall: yay! Every spring: boo! The ending and beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST) tend to illicit strong feelings these days.
Since it was first enacted, DST has alternately filled people with joy at gaining another hour of sleep and then made people grumpy when that hour is taken away. But now, it’s become more than that. There is actually a growing movement to do away with time changes altogether.
Here, we discuss some of the reasons why we should or shouldn’t do so. But first, a little background.
The History of Daylight Saving Time
DST is a wholly human creation. It started in WWI Europe as a way to conserve energy in the evenings. America also adopted the practice in 1918.
While Daylight Saving Time ended when the war ended, it was picked it back up again in 1942 for the same purposes. Then, it stuck around. It was made into law in the U.S. in the 1970s in response to the energy crisis.
Since then, any positive effect DST may have on energy usage and cost has proven negligible at best. Arizona and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, have chosen to stay on Standard Time year-round. The remaining states continue to observe the start and end of DST every year.
However, a growing bi-partisan coalition of senators have started introducing bills to make DST permanent. Another DST bill has been recently re-introduced, with the intention of not having clocks fall back in November. Or need to be changed ever again.
Is this bill a good thing? Or should we stick to tradition?
Pros (Time Changes Should Continue)
The current pattern of spring forward and fall back has become engrained in the cultural and economic structure of much of the developed world. It is expected and, therefore, automatically factored in.
And there is actually a certain amount of joy that comes with each time change, forward as well as back. In the fall, we gain an hour of sleep, which is almost universally agreed to be a good thing. And while an hour is lost in the spring, brighter evenings eventually make up for it.
Requires Act of Congress
The amount of time and effort it seems it will take to end time changes through legislation doesn’t seem worth it. On the scale of things that need to be fixed in this country, Daylight Saving Time should be nearer the bottom of the list than at the top. It is, at worst, a mild annoyance and distracting from other more important matters of state.
Cons (Time Changes Should End)
Bi-Annual Disruption to the World
Yes, time changes are expected every year. But that does not mean they happen smoothly across the board. Every March and November, normal processes are interrupted by time changes. Meetings and appointments are inevitably missed. Calendars need to be manually verified and updated.
For at least a day or two, confusion reigns. Which means things don’t get done as well or as efficiently as they normally do.
People’s health is directly tied to the amount and quality of sleep they get. Artificially adjusting time goes against people’s natural circadian rhythms, resulting in poorer sleep and seasonal depression. The spring forward in particular, and the loss of an hour of sleep, has also been observed to cause things like heart attacks, strokes, and automobile accidents and other infractions due to impairment.
Whatever your opinion about Daylight Saving Time might be, any changes to its observation aren’t apt to happen overnight. (Just ask the senators who have been trying to overhaul it for years.) Love it or hate it, DST seems likely to stick around for at least a little while longer.
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