The Bane of Daylight Saving Time

The other day I came across this lone daffodil brightening an otherwise drab little field. No other flowers were around, and I smiled at the courage it had to pop it’s pretty little head up without any friends nearby.

Raise your hand if you agree that we should stop messing with all the clocks twice a year. This nonsense messes with our sleep patterns and really has no intrinsic value, despite the claims that we save energy. I woke up this morning at my usual time according to my internal clock, but it was an hour later according the clock on my nightstand. My watch agreed with the clock on the nightstand. I’m just glad I didn’t have to be at a job where I had to clock in a a specific time. I’m also glad that my dog’s internal clock meshed with mine, and he still thought we were going out for his morning walk and potty break at 7:30 and not 8:30.

Not only is this a huge inconvenience, but this twice-a-year time change carries some other risks. I used to think that adjusting was just a matter of convenience, but apparently the difficulty we have in adjusting has some other risks. In this 2013 article Doctor Joseph Mercola outlined some of the specific health issues caused by our observance of Daylight Saving’s Time. He noted some results of scientific research:

  • Heart Attacks: A 2008 Swedish study found your chances of having a heart attack increase in the first three weekdays after the switch to DST, and decrease after you set your clock back to standard time in the fall. Heart attacks increase by five percent the first Monday after the time change, and 10 percent on Tuesday.
  • Suicides: Suicide rates for males rise in the weeks following the start of DST.
  • Automobile Accidents: Traffic accidents increase by eight percent on the Monday following the changeover to DST. And fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents increase for the first week after setting the clocks ahead. Workplace accidents and injuries increase by 5.7 percent, and 67.6 percent more workdays are lost as a result of injuries following the change to DST.
  • Productivity and Quality of Life: People are less productive once DST is implemented. Till Roenneberg, a Russian chronobiologist, reports that most people show “drastically decreased productivity,” decreased quality of life, increased illness, and are “just plain tired.”

There’s a lot of other good information in Dr. Mercola’s article about our need for sleep; how changes in sleep patterns affect our immune system and stress levels and tips on how to deal with some of the problems caused by these disruptions to our sleep.

As to why DST was first introduced, I found this bit of trivia when doing a Google search: “Clocks in the German Empire, and its ally Austria, were turned ahead by 1 hour on April 30, 1916—2 years into World War I. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting to save fuel for the war effort.”

That rationale of saving energy was used many times as justification for the need for DST, but there is no compelling evidence that it has made a significant impact. Some of the pros and cons are outlined in this article Does Daylight Saving Time Really save Energy by Stephanie Pappas in Live Science. She reports on a number of studies that showed energy used for lighting did decrease, but energy used for heating and cooling increased.

This article, Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time, has interesting information on how far back the concept of changing times goes – back to ancient civilizations who changed the water clocks depending on the month of the year. There is also mention of a 1784 letter written by Benjamin Franklin to the Journal of Paris suggesting that Parisians could save on the cost of candles by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning. Apparently he meant that as a joke, although that is often debated.

I wish it all was just one big joke.

In an article Daylight Saving Time Quotes posted on International Business Times, I found this one by Canadian author and playwright Robinson Davies that I particularly liked: “I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the daylight saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”

Then, of course, there’s this classic, sometimes attributed to an American Indian, other times cited as anonymous. “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

That’s all for me for today, folks. Despite our general tendency to yawn our way through the day, I do hope your week starts off productively.

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