The case against Daylight Saving Time
Government intervention with clocks used to have at least some logical justification, but now is completely counterproductive
Today, March 8, most Americans changed their clocks to mark the beginning of Daylight Saving Time for the year. That means clocks have “sprung forward” an hour. But why does America—along with several other nations—practice DST in the first place?
According to Christopher Klein in History, it was enacted first by Germany, then by the UK as a way to conserve energy during World War I.
By artificially influencing people to be awake for as long as possible during daylight hours instead of night hours, there would be less demand for artificial light and less energy used, so the theory went. The fact that it was done during wartime emphasized both sides’ desire to put all the resources they could into the war effort.
The policy spread to other nations since that time, the primary justification still being to conserve energy.
DST’s Impact on Americans
In the U.S., not everyone was equally affected by the switch. Some industries like retail and recreational companies benefited from the extra business they received under the DST system. Farmers, on the other hand, were bothered by it, since the schedule of a farmer is determined by the sun, not the state. Cows must be milked at certain natural times of day, regardless of the government’s intervention with the clocks.
Now, the benefits of DST are being re-evaluated.
According to Charles Q. Choi in Scientific American, while the U.S. Dept. of Transportation concluded in the 1970s that DST saved about one percent of the nation’s electricity, the opposite seems to be the case now. When Indiana first established the statewide time change in 2006, DST actually raised residential energy consumption by one percent. Thus, DST is no longer serving its original purpose of conserving energy.
The difference of energy consumption may have been relatively small, but it is nonetheless confirmed that DST correlates with higher energy consumption. Regardless of whether the time change was effective before, it is not anymore.
The time change is outdated.
Not only has DST failed its original purpose, it also poses a health risk.
When people lose or gain an hour of sleep, their sleep cycles—their circadian rhythms—get disturbed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, your circadian rhythm is best when it is kept in a regular routine of being awake and asleep.
According to a study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and their colleagues, heart attacks in Sweden rose about five percent during the first week of the European equivalent of DST. This is concluded to be a consequence of the lack of sleep resulting from the time change.
According to John M. Vincent in U.S. News and World Report, a spike in fatal auto accidents is also linked to the time change. When drivers get an hour less of sleep, they are less alert and more prone to crash.
The government should not be perpetuating policies which put people at artificial risk.
The time change is unhealthy.
Lastly, hard working people have far more important things they could be doing than worrying about changing their schedules twice per year. Congress should seriously consider the benefits which their constituents would receive if the government stopped trying to make people practice good schedules and instead let them choose their waking hours for themselves and deal with the natural consequences thereof.
As both computers and human brains are expected to accelerate their processing powers, time is becoming all the more precious. People cannot be as productive when they have the government meddling with their schedules.
The time change is disruptive.
Time is more effectively managed by individuals, not the state
There is such a thing as electric bills. If a person uses a lot of electricity because of his/her schedule, then he/she is the one who will have to pay.
The economic laws of supply and demand create the prices, and when the government tries to defy those natural laws, unintended consequences result. In this case, people’s lives are needlessly disrupted and put at risk because of a policy centered around government manipulation of the clock.
The time change is outdated, unhealthy and disruptive.
Fortunately, Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in it.
The rest of the nation would be wise to follow suit.
[An earlier version of this article was first published in The Student Movement: the official student newspaper of Andrews University, 30 Oct. 2020.]