By: Daniela Alvarez
On November 3rd, Americans nationwide woke up to the beautiful realization that they had been given an extra hour of sleep. In preparation for winter, where dawn and dusk both come earlier, the clocks are adjusted accordingly.
However, in a few months time, that extra hour will soon be taken away once more. This biannual clock change has been customary throughout the United States since World War I as a means to save energy.
Daylight Saving Time has always been a controversial idea ever since Benjamin Franklin considered it back in the 18th century. However, about 40 percent of the countries in the world make use of Daylight Savings Time in order to provide more daylight during the evening time, according to timeanddate.com.
Is the eight month “energy-saving” period as necessary now as it was a century ago, however? Generally, we are no longer an agrarian society that needs the sunlight to work on our farms. We also now have the technology to keep the world lit even after the sun goes down.
The claim that it is a measure to save energy throughout the nation is uncertain. An experiment conducted by economic researchers Matthew J. Kotchen and Laura E. Grant in Indiana found that daylight saving time actually increased the amount of electricity usage because, instead of light, people were using energy for their air conditioning and heating systems. In the summer, they turned on the air conditioners while in the fall, they turned up the heat.
These problems did not exist a century ago, so because we have evolved as a society, so too should our consideration of Daylight Savings Time.
Furthermore, one of the more obvious disadvantages that Daylight Saving Time brings is the disruption in sleep schedules. Taking away an hour of sleep disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm, the internal process that the body uses to control when a person feels tired or alert. This is most prevalently felt in the days following the beginning of daylight saving time. According to Business Insider, the change in time is similar to a feeling of jet lag, in which the body’s internal clock is confused by the sudden shift.
As a result, individuals may suffer from sleep-deprivation, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate or perform as well as before. For some, the adjustment period to Daylight Saving Time can take a long time. According to the medical journal Sleep Medicine, it may take up to three weeks for some to get used to this change.
Daylight Saving Time can have a detrimental impact on the health of individuals overall. In some cases, studies report the increase of worker-related accidents following the change in time. Additionally, the American Journal of Cardiology reports a rising rate in heart attacks that coincide with the start of daylight saving time.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that various groups are lobbying against Daylight Saving Time altogether. Some members of Congress have taken the initiative to introduce bills that would eliminate the requirement of Daylight Saving Time in their respective states. These politicians are calling for a standard time that would bring an end to the practice of changing the clocks twice every year.
Even though some politicians such as Texas Representative Lyle Larson are making an effort to bring an end to Daylight Saving Time, it would take a successful bill passed by Congress and signed by the president to finally end this practice in the United States.
For now, most Americans must continue to suffer with these cruel and unnecessary circumstances. We should cherish this extra hour of sleep to the best of our abilities. Before we know it, March will come along and snatch it from us once again. Without a clear reason to why daylight saving time continues to exist, it will still be a customary practice in the coming years despite all the problems it brings.