Why We All Need Less Daylight Savings Time (and a lot more sleep)
Updated: Mar 21, 2022
For those who know me (and those who don't), it is no secret that I dislike Daylight Savings Time almost as much as I hate April Fool's Day. It's not that I simply dislike Falling Back an hour in the Fall or Springing Forward an hour in the Spring (although that's absolutely true); it's that the whole entire thing doesn't even make sense any more. In fact, the more we as a society learn about the origins of Daylight Savings Time, the more we are learning that it never really made much sense to begin with. It seems that every single year, newspapers and podcasts alike bring up the subject of just how much everyone hates Daylight Savings Time and provide conflicting versions of just exactly why we are stuck with it. The most definitive history and unbiased investigation of Daylight Savings Time is this article from The New York Times (a subscription may be required). If you want a more visual overview of what I'm talking about, here is a an excellent summary to de-mystify the confusion surrounding Daylight Savings Time:
Don't misunderstand me: I don't mind jumping through hoops and exerting remarkable amounts of energy to accomplish things that result in a net benefit for humanity. For example, I recently waited two hours in line to get my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Then, three weeks later, I waited an additional hour in line to get my second dose. Could I have thought of better ways to spend those three hours of my life? Not really. After all, every additional person who gets vaccinated is protecting all of the people around them and pushing our country closer to the end of the pandemic. Every day, people who get vaccinated or donate blood or continue to perform essential services in and for our communities are recognized for performing heroic acts of service. Yet no one feels like they are doing anything remotely good for the community when they adjust their clocks twice a year.
Let me go out on a limb here and assume that you only obey the rules of Daylight Savings Time because you live in a state where everyone else does. No one told you that you HAD to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but you did it anyway to save lives. The government tells you to wear a seat belt, and you do so willingly, since it will save your own life in an emergency. And yet you HAVE to disrupt your sleep schedule twice a year just to arrive at work on time? Ridiculous! Just whose lives does this save, anyway? Well, scientific studies have shown that Daylight Savings Time doesn't save anything. Quite the contrary: Daylight Savings Time is, quite literally, killing us.
A great article in gothamist explains the case against Daylight Savings Time:
First of all, Daylight Savings Time is a hassle. No one would argue with this point: while most computers and phones will automatically adjust to the twice-annual change, it's a complete waste of time to change the clock in the car, on the stove, on the fridge, on the microwave, on your wrist, and anywhere else where your devices aren't smart enough to do it themselves.
Secondly, Daylight Savings Time is a mess. Not all American states and territories observe it, and therefore it's confusing to residents and travelers crossing state borders. This patchwork, piecemeal observance creates confusion and conflict on top of the already complicated (but actually necessary) time zone system.
Thirdly, Daylight Savings Time causes unnecessary harm, injuries and death. Because of the sudden shift in sleep schedules, many employees are late to work for the first few days afterwards. This creates friction in their working relationships with their employers. In addition, Daylight Savings Time has been shown to disrupt people's sleep schedules in the same way that jet lag does, creating higher rates of automobile accidents. Plus, let's not forget that babies and young children do not observe Daylight Savings Time. They will wake up and go to bed at the same time they used to, whether or not the clock agrees. This strains peaceful family relationships.
Finally, Daylight Savings Time doesn't actually save electricity costs. Articles such as this one from the Scientific American indicate that Daylight Savings Time might even be worse for electricity consumption in the US, due to the increased use of heating and air conditioning when the switchovers occur.
While the primary arguments for keeping Daylight Savings Time include extended daylight hours during the summer, most proposals to end Daylight Savings Time would actually solve this problem by eliminating the "Fall Back" portion during the summer months, essentially locking us into perennial Daylight Savings without any of the downsides.
The good news is that some progress is being made (albeit slowly). The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would leave the country permanently on Daylight Savings Time, although the House of Representatives still needs to approve the bill for it to become law. If you have a moment (or even if you don't), I encourage you to write to your local, state, and federal representatives to urge them to embrace this solution and bring the outdated practice of Daylight Savings Time to a permanent end once and for all in the United States. After all, we have enough problems to worry about without needing to lose extra sleep over something this pointless.
If you would like one last jab at Daylight Savings Time, watch this: