Based on all available data, including several studies, daylight saving is an outdated practice that causes more harm than any potential benefits. Every year, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, Americans turn their clocks back one hour. This North American tradition began during World War I when rations on electricity were one of numerous war efforts on the home front. The practice was continued even after World War II due to oil shortages. Despite its previous utility, for current lifestyles and cultural practices, turning clocks forward and backward twice a year poses some major hindrances to health and careers.
The American Psychological Association published a 2009 Michigan State University study, which included specific statistically, verifiable data showing the negative effects of daylight saving, especially on the workplace. Their findings showed that productivity decreased due to a variety of factors. Employees got 40 minutes less sleep resulting in almost six percent more injuries, and 66 percent fewer days of work due to those injuries. Ending the archaic practice of daylight saving could reduce this lost productivity.
Moreover, the American Journal of Cardiology has produced numerous studies documenting a spike in heart attacks during the first week of daylight saving. Losing that hour of sleep can prove fatal through the increased stress and decreased time to recover from daily stressors. Americans are already sleep-deprived. Therefore, losing an hour of sleep in the spring only exacerbates the problem. In the fall, when an hour of sleep is gained, heart attacks decrease thus further proving the call to end daylight savings due to its harmful, outdated rationale.
Another study published in the Journal of Sleep and Biological Rhythms in 2008 found an increase in the number of suicides in Australian men in the first week of daylight saving. The lack of sleep can prove fatal for some. Changing the body’s internal circadian rhythms can have severe effects on mood and hormone production, cause poor performance, lack of concentration, and increased fatigue. Furthermore, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Current Biology concluded that humans never adjust to daylight saving and the effects can remain throughout the year.
There are also the economic costs of altering our natural biological clocks to consider. An index created by the Chmura Economic Analysts estimated that losses of productivity and health injuries could cost the nation up to $2 billion per year. Additionally, analysts with the U.S. Department of Energy found that daylight saving saved 1.3 million watts of electricity in 2005. However, a 2007 report from the California Energy Commission found no change in how much energy was used throughout the state after rolling clocks back. Whereas a study in Indiana actually revealed an increase in energy usage.
In the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii are two states that do not adhere to federal daylight saving times. It appears that Utah and Alabama may join these states in the near future. A survey of 27,000 residents of Utah found that a majority wanted to remain in general mountain time throughout the year. The number one cited reason for getting rid of daylight saving was convenience. A leader of the committee conducting the survey reported that people do not want to set and reset their clocks two times a year.
Senator Rusty Glover, a Republican legislator in Alabama, was able to gain legislative support for a bill advocating to keep Alabama in central standard time throughout the year. Glover is running unopposed in Tuesday’s election and plans to put the bill forward in the next legislative session. Glover stated that daylight savings does not save energy and is a constant disruption for businesses and even parents of school children.
For those still living in states where daylight saving is actively implemented, there are a few approaches you can take to mitigate the harmful effects of the outdated practice, including going to sleep at your regular time despite the extra hour, paying attention to how you feel upon waking, and getting enough sunlight during the day to boost mood. Michael Breus, PhD., a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, recommends counting our blessings because the time change in the fall requires less adjustment than the one in spring. He says gaining an hour of sleep in the fall beats losing an hour in the spring.
By Didi Anofienem