This weekend, hundreds of millions of Americans will dutifully set their clocks back one hour, convincing themselves that they’ve “gained” an hour – despite spending at least part of it resetting all their timepieces.
Americans should instead refuse to play along. Few government mandates combine such utter pointlessness and serious public health harms than the twice-a-year switch on and off Daylight Saving Time. It’s time to end the madness.
First, despite its label, “Daylight Saving Time” does not save daylight. It doesn’t even save energy. Two studies looked at energy use before and after changes in DST laws. Indiana went on daylight saving time statewide for the first time in 2006, and in 2007 when President George W. Bush’s godawful energy bill started DST three weeks earlier.
Both found no energy savings. Energy use in Indiana actually went up when it went on DST. So if switching back and forth each year doesn’t save energy, what does it do?
What is clear is that it is a real public health hazard.
A study in Health Economics found that “springing forward” causes “the suicide rate to rise by 6.25% and the death rate from suicide and substance abuse combined to increase by 6.59% directly after the time change.”
Another study published in Sleep Medicine found a significant increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the switch to DST, because people are sleep-deprived by having to get up an hour earlier.
But the study also found that traffic fatalities climbed on the Sunday after everyone “falls back” to standard time. As the researchers noted:
The behavioral adaptation anticipating the longer day on Sunday of the shift from DST in the fall leads to an increased number of accidents suggesting an increase in late night (early Sunday morning) driving when traffic-related fatalities are high possibly related to alcohol consumption and driving while sleepy.
The annual switch also correlates with higher rates of heart attacks and workplace injuries.
Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta told CNN last week that this weekend’s time shift will also trigger cluster headaches. He adds that it “may increase Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression triggered by the changing of the seasons and waning daylight. It’s well documented that (the time change) does not directly cause mental health conditions, but it definitely can really do a number on people with preexisting conditions.”
So, why do we bother with this ritual? To have an extra hour of daylight during summer evenings? And if DST does save energy, as some insist, then why go off it in the winter … when evening daylight is more precious and fleeting?
There have been efforts in Congress to stop this nonsense.
Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., pushed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent, nationwide. Rubio’s bill passed by unanimous consent, only to die in the House where then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t take it up.
Meanwhile, nearly two dozen states have passed bills expressing their desire to remain on DST year-round. But they can’t implement these bills because federal law allows states to stay only on standard time year-round, so states aren’t allowed to switch to permanent DST without a change in federal law.
Why make DST the standard? Why not make “standard” time the standard? Just pick one and go with it. (Given that we are on “standard” time for only four months and DST for eight, it makes sense to make DST the standard.)
You don’t have to wait for the federal government to retract this idiocy. Just refuse to change your clocks, starting this weekend. On Sunday, get up at the same time you always do. Go to work at the same time next Monday as you did this Friday.
The only difference you’ll experience is that your commute will be easier, and you can still get a little bit of daylight at the end of the workday. Better still, when the rest of the country goes back to Daylight Saving Time in just four months, and everyone else is suffering the ill effects of these time changes, you will have happily and healthfully avoided this stupidity.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board