Daylight Savings Time: Why do we have it, and should we keep it?

If you live in a state which implements Daylight Savings Time between March and early November, you are no doubt looking forward to sleeping in one extra hour this coming Sunday morning (unless you have small children, whose body clocks do not care whether the world is in standard or daylight time!!!). There is much discussion every six months, especially in the spring when we lose an hour of sleep, about why we even have Daylight Savings Time, whether we should get rid of it, or even just keep it in Daylight time all the year long. Let’s look at the history of Daylight Savings Time, as well as some little known facts and trivia:

Despite the feeling that many of us have that Daylight Savings Time has been around forever, it was only implemented in the United States just over 100 years ago, in 1918. However, Benjamin Franklin actually proposed the idea back in 1784 as a means for keeping fuel (lighting) costs down. Although his idea was largely dismissed, the British officially adopted Daylight Savings Time in 1916 when the idea was revisited again by William Willett. More recently, it has been shown that any savings related to increasing the light towards the end of the day are often offset by increased fuel costs, due to people being out and about later, and increased cooling costs with people running air condition in their homes after work.

Courtesy: infobarrel.com

When the United States Congress approved the measure in 1918, the idea was met with much resistance. Many individuals did not like the idea that the government could just ‘step in’ and require everyone to change their clocks. At most times in our history, it has been the decision of the individual states as far as whether to adopt Daylight Savings Time, except during World War II when it was enforced by the federal government. Currently, most of Arizona and Hawaii do not use Daylight Savings Time. Indiana only recently adopted it back in 2006.

According to timeanddate.com, setting your clocks forward in the spring has been shown to have detrimental health effects. In fact, studies have shown that the following are correlated to losing an hour with the spring time change:

  • increased incidence of heart attacks
  • increased traffic accidents
  • increased workplace injuries

In the fall, losing an hour has been shown to have the following effects on human behavior and health:

  • increased mental illness issues, including depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • increased fatigue and unexplained tiredness

Additionally, the switch to Standard time in the fall can cause hiccups in travel schedules and air traffic delays, as well as cost employers who have to pay shift workers for one extra hour for the night shift this coming Saturday night (into Sunday morning).

Daylight Savings Time can also create some interesting issues, and even paradoxes, for travelers and other folks. Take this family, for example: their twins were born about 30 minutes apart, but at the time the clocks fell back. Thus, the twin who was born 30 minutes later actually is older than the first twin. Confused? Me too! However, one twin was born at 1:39 AM. The clocks turned back at 2:00 AM, and the second twin arrived at 2:10 AM (old time), which is really 1:10 AM in the new time. Thus, twin #2 was born at 1:10 Eastern Standard Time, while twin #1 was born at 1:39 Eastern Daylight Time!!!

Courtesy: Boston.com

So, what can we take away from all of this? Several things are certain:

  • Time will continue to march on
  • Every 6 months, discussions will crop up as to whether we should eliminate daylight savings time
  • Every 6 months, we will read about, and feel ourselves, some of the adverse effects of the time change
  • For those of us (like myself) for whom winter feels endless, the passage into Standard Time from Daylight Time will serve as one more hurdle to jump through before we can get to spring and the warm weather

And with that, we remind everyone to change their clocks back an hour this Saturday evening before bed, and enjoy the extra hour of sleep!!!

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