So, most of us changed our clocks forward an hour on Sunday night. And most of us grumbled about it.
Oh, sure, some people love the extra light; but does anyone love losing an hour of sleep. A poll last fall showed that 71% of us want to end the practice. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has proposed a bill to move the entire country to daylight saving time year round.
The idea is to save energy by giving extra daylight in the evening, and they also claim that it reduces traffic accident and cuts crime.
Does it Really?
So, let’s look at the supposed benefits:
- Does it save energy? Well, no. Okay, it does result in us using less energy on lighting; but energy use goes up for heating and cooling, especially in the mornings. Any overall savings are minimal at best.
- Does it get us out of the house more in the evenings? Maybe a little. It is nice to have that extra daylight at night. It does encourage people to go out and take a walk.
- Does it reduce traffic accidents? Daylight Saving time does reduce accidents…but the change increases them. If we really wanted to reduce accidents we’d do what Sen. Rubio suggested, and just stay on DST permanently. One study in 2004 said this would save about 366 lives a year.
- If you have SAD, the time change will give you a kick in the butt that gets rid of it.
- The extra daylight increases everyone’s vitamin D benefits.
So, What’s Wrong With the Change?
If there really are benefits to DST, then why do many experts think we should stop changing the clocks?
The fact is, there are benefits to DST.
The drawbacks are changing back and forth.
The spring time change is associated with:
- A 6% increase in fatal road accidents.
- A 5% increase in heart attacks and strokes
- A 6% increase in occupational fatalities, especially in mining
- A 5% increase in custodial sentences handed down in court (because sleep-deprived judges are apparently harsher or something).
And, of course, it makes us miserable. Some more than others. (If you happen to have certain sleep disorders it can make you all but non-functional).
Most people have disrupted sleep for the first day, but some people may experience problems for several days after the change. Many of those people may not realize they are sleep deprived, and it will affect their judgments. Grades go down. People goof off more at work. The stock market dips.
Some people may take as long as two weeks to fully recover from the time change.
In other words? Sen. Rubio is right. We should stop changing the clocks, and given the health benefits of daylight saving time, we should stay in that time zone year round. (Several states have passed laws to stay in DST year round, but Congress is refusing to allow them because interstate commerce, I guess).
Rubio’s bill is our best hope to stop experiencing annual springtime misery.