Debunking daylight savings

Do we need to continue with daylight savings?


Courtesy of Sebastian Garcia

Every year around spring, we push our clocks forward an hour. Initially proposed by Benjamin Franklin, it was adapted into the U.S standard in 1918 and was invented to conserve time and energy. 

Currently, only two states do not use daylight hours, which are Arizona and Hawaii, and some portions of Puerto Rico. According to University of Michigan Health, many sleep experts say that the cons of daylight savings outweigh the pros when considering health risks for our sleep.

The positives to using daylight savings are promoting safety for driving in the lighter hours or people outside and conserving energy. Popular Mechanics estimates that 366 more lives can be saved if daylight savings time was extended for the full year. 

“There’s much more traffic in the evening rush hour than in morning,” David Prerau, one of the leading authorities of DST, said. “The morning only has commuters; the evening has commuters plus people who are going out for other reasons.”

The Review of Economics and Statistics has also found a 7% increase in robberies for the entire day following the shift to Daylight Savings and a 27% drop during the evening hour which has gained sunlight. 

On the other hand, there are many cons to daylight savings time. It can lead to more people getting sick. In addition, many resources have debunked that daylight savings actually helps conserve energy, or that the percentage saved is very little. A California Energy Commission study found a decrease in energy use per day of extended DST, but only by 0.5%.

Many physical and mental health risks do come with this change in the hour. 

The sleep deprivation caused by this adjustment persists longer than just a day. During the week following the Sunday transition, people may experience a 30-minute decrease in sleep each night, even through the following Friday of the time jump,” neuroscientist Austin Lim said.

This sleep deprivation has been linked to physical harm. The risk of a heart attack or stroke is also more likely to happen, the following day of the time change. Performance deficits are present in everyday hand motions such as reflex and attention tasks. These tiny deficits could lead to an increase in fatal car accidents in the five days following the transition. 

There is also a desynchronization between the body’s hormonal balance and surrounding following the shift. Due to the change in daily light exposure, there is a mismatch. This results in a condition similar to jet lag or shift work disorder

Although Daylight Savings might be hard to understand at first, it is important to be aware of when it happens, so you are better prepared for the adjustment. It is also important to understand both the benefits and drawbacks, for your own sake.