It’s that time of year again. You wake up for class or work around six or seven or somewhere around that time and you just can’t seem to get out of bed. You’re exhausted with your sleep schedule all out of whack.
Daylight Saving Time is to blame. I’ve always wondered why we still observe this when it seems to cause a plethora of issues, such as a skewed sleeping schedule or clock confusion.
I decided to do some research on the history of Daylight Saving Time and find out why in the world we had to set our clocks back in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
According to an article written by Brian Handwerk for National Geographic News on Oct. 31, Ben Franklin was the first person to suggest the concept of Daylight Saving, according to computer scientist David Prerau.
While Franklin served as a U.S. ambassador to France, he wrote about waking up at 6 a.m. and realizing that the sun would rise earlier than he did and thought resources might be saved if he and others rose before noon and burned less midnight oil.
Daylight Saving wasn’t realized until World War I. Germany was the first country to adopt time changes to reduce artificial lighting and save coal for the war effort. In the U.S., a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of Daylight Saving Time in 1918 for the states that chose to observe it. Not all states have to observe it. Arizona and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time.
However, during World War II, the U.S. made Daylight Saving Time mandatory for the whole country as a way to save on wartime resources. Since World War II has ended, Daylight Saving Time has always been optional for U.S. states. I wish Michigan would be like Arizona and Hawaii.
Another time the U.S. extended Daylight Saving Time through the winter was during the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, which resulted in a one percent decrease in the country’s electrical load. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act was enacted, which mandated a controversial month-long extension of Daylight Saving Time, which started in 2007.
Although Daylight Saving Time was enacted as a means to save energy, in recent years several studies have suggested that daylight saving time doesn’t actually save energy and may actually result in a net loss as more people (specifically in the South) turn on their air conditioning for an hour longer during the summer months when we “spring forward.”
One con of Daylight Saving Time is that it’s harmful to people’s health. Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, said his studies show that our circadian body clocks—set by light and darkness—never adjust to gaining an “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the day during Daylight Saving Time.
Ronenneberg said the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness and just feeling tired. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that, at least in Sweden, heart attack risks go up in the days just after the spring time change.
After all of this research, I don’t think Daylight Saving Time is necessary anymore and does more harm than good.
Wouldn’t it be nice to no longer have to fall back or spring forward? I think so. Our circadian rhythms
would thank us.