Time to shelve Daylight Savings Time

Acentury ago, one could imagine good reason for Daylight Savings Time (also called “Summer Time” in many parts of the world). By manufacturing an “extra” hour of sunlight, it provided more active hours with natural light, which would have been important for farmers and also factories in the war years. Of course, changing the clocks does not create extra daylight, but it causes the sun to rise and set at a later time by the clock.

Today, DST is an anachronism and the arguments in favor of it are based on faulty facts and old ideas.

Who knew 100 years ago that switching the clock back and forth is bad for your human health. Science indicates that it is. Changing the time, even if it is only by 1 hour, disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is simply an inconvenience. For some, however, the time change can have more serious consequences – ranging from suicide, depression, other aspects of sleep loss, and even heart attack risk. Additionally, the shift into and out of DST causes most people some difficulty adjusting and impacts sleeping patterns. We know much more today about the perils that come with disrupted sleeping patterns.

Furthermore, initially the advantage was saving use of artificial light. But that was many technological era ago. Society today, with its computers, TV screens, and air conditioning units use more energy, no matter if the sun is up or not. Today, the amount of energy saved from DST is negligible, with one study even indicating it increased use of electricity.

A solid argument has been made over the course of the DST debate (and it is a debate) that it provides working people more daylight time in the evenings after work, which certainly has advantages. But at this moment in history, people work all sorts of shifts. We don’t universally work 9 to 5. Far fewer people today benefit from the change, even if many cling to the concept while not benefiting from the reality.

There was a time when DST was a clever tool to try to overcome changes in our natural environment. Perhaps now is the time to adapt to our environment and live in harmony with its rhythms.

It’s time to shelve Daylight Savings Time.

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