What’s the Point of Daylight Savings?

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, clocks were turned forward one hour.  Daylight saving time is the practice of moving clocks forward starting in spring so that daylight lasts longer into evening.  In the winter, however, it is changed back.  This further reduces the amount of daylight in the early morning from the already diminished amount because of later sunrises, especially in northern latitudes.  The switch is done both here in North America, as well as in many European countries, but what is the point?

The  first people to come up with this idea were “Benjamin Franklin, George Vernon Hudson, and William Willet”(Vpcalendar, online) around 1784.  Many people believe that this practice was invented by or from farmers to give them more time to work the fields, but this turns out to not be historically verifiable.  The more logical reason for daylight saving time involves using the extra sunlight to work and to conserve energy (less electricity will be used).  According to some, it was implemented during World War II, when Germans and their allies wanted to conserve coal.  Many nations seemed to think this was a good idea and adopted it.  After World War II ended, states and localities could start and end daylight saving time whenever they wanted; Time magazine called it “a chaos of clocks” (Klein, online) in 1963.  But saving power doesn’t hold much water anymore.  We all know people are going to stay up late no matter what—running electronics and other energy zapping devices all night long even if it is pitch dark outside.

There are some negative effects to this practice.  Some studies show that changes in the time quickly increase “heart attacks and strokes, cause more car accidents. and reduce worker productivity” (Ax, online).  This research seems to suggest that it is the disruption (even if minor) to sleep patterns that causes  negative effects to humans.  Data in that study found an increase of 25% in heart attacks on the Monday after the time changed.  .  Children and teens are also affected, showing signs of irritability and less energy.  Yes, they can just go to bed earlier to avoid missing that one hour, but practically no one will do that (though I used to).  The “social jet lag”, as they call it, affects people’s lives too much.

Some provinces and states want to opt out of daylight saving time changes, such as British Columbia who wants to cancel this practice of “shifting back and forth between daylight time and standard time, which could make it the first Canadian province to bring in permanent daylight time”(McKeen, online).  In addition, Yukon announced at the beginning of this week that “Sunday’s spring forward would be the territory’s last.”(McKeen, online).  In fact, many states (26 of them to be exact) and the European Union have already begun that process.  Some people are reluctant to change, but that will always be, because change is sometimes scary.  So, we may have to soon say goodbye to this old practice and embrace the new way to live.

But is it a good change? Well, according to many health experts, yes.  There are other benefits as well, forgetting to change the time can be a horrible experience, imagine having to be at work or having to write an exam.

To those who cling to the old reasons for the practice (more daylight more energy savings), it won’t be appreciated.  I guess there are pros and cons to keeping it this way and to changing it, just like everything else in life.  What really matters is that we adapt to the change and make good use of what we got.

Ax, Joseph.  Hate daylight saving time? You may have a point, researchers say.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-daylightsaving-idUSKBN16I0S6
Klein, Christopher.  8 Things You May Not Know About Daylight Saving Time.  https://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-daylight-saving-time
McKeen, Alex.  B.C.  wants to axe daylight saving time.  Will the rest of Canada follow suit? https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/03/07/why-the-clock-is-ticking-on-time-changes-in-british-columbia-and-maybe-the-world.html
VpCalendar.  What Is the Point of Daylight Savings Time? http://www.vpcalendar.net/what-is-the-point-of-daylight-savings-time.html