Daylight Saving Time is Bullshit

Your biannual reminder to change your clocks

In preparation for the upcoming time shift, I am bringing you a friendly reminder and plea to, once again, abolish Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time was originally passed as an energy-saving measure, during the first World War. It was controversial at the time, with farmers lobbying against it and the retail industry lobbying for it.

The argument that follows will show that Daylight Saving Time is a dangerous, costly and unpopular part of our lives and should be removed from the national conversation. Frankly, it’s bullshit.

DST is Bad for your Health

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the dramatic shift in available sleeping hours in the spring leads to many bad health effects, the most pronounced being a higher incidence of heart attack, which spikes sharply after the spring time change.

The reduction in sleep also leads to more on-the-job accidents. In a study from the Journal of Applied Psychology, on Monday following the time shift, mining workers experienced up to 40 less minutes of sleep, which correlated with a more workplace injuries of greater severity.

It affects our driving too. The loss of sleep increases the likelihood of traffic accidents by 10% according to AAA of Southern New England. The years of data and studies have shown that Daylight Saving Time presents many physical hazards related to a lack of sleep and I know it’s the one week of the year I’d least like to have a complicated surgery scheduled.

DST is Bad for the Economy

On top of the physical impact of the Daylight Saving Time, is the economic effect. One of the touted benefits of the original proposal for DST was energy savings. The logic was, shifting our clocks to later in the day during the summer months would allow for more natural light during waking hours.

But, in a 2008 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, this effect wasn’t proven out.

Based on millions of data points for electricity usage in Indiana over its first three years of fully observing Daylight Saving Time, the study concluded that electricity demand rose instead of falling.

Sure, people turned on fewer lights in the evening, but they adjusted their thermostats for greater comfort in the morning.

DST is Bad for Productivity

Adding to the negative economic effect, reducing the available time for sleep has shown to increase “cyberloafing”. Cyberloafing is the phenomenon that is present during the workday where workers perform internet tasks, such as leisure reading or catching up on social media, unrelated to their job. You know, that thing you’re doing right now.

Cyberloafing becomes more prevalent after the time shift because less sleep leads to lower self-control and ability to regulate impulses. This can be seen in a dramatic upward spike in google searches for non-work search terms during business hours.

While the economic impact can only be estimated, over 300 million US citizens experience the time shift. Even a few minutes of additional time wasting for each person has a staggering effect on productivity. (Yes, I’m recommending abolishing Daylight Saving Time as a national boon to productivity, Tony.)

One example where the economic impact has been quantified is the airline industry. The practice of extending Daylight Saving Time by two weeks in 2005 was estimated to cost the airlines $147 million due to being out of sync with the rest of the world. The economic effect of Daylight Saving Time is an unnecessary burden.

DST is Unpopular

In addition to being dangerous for our citizens and costly for our economy - the citizens you serve, your bosses, overwhelmingly do not like it. In a 2014 study conducted by the Rasmussen Report, only 33% of people surveyed agreed that Daylight Saving Time was worthwhile, leaving 2/3 of the population as seeing it as not worth the hassle.

Public opinion against DST is growing also, according to data from previous years. The disruption to schedules is more than can be tolerated in today’s connected society. When does the time change occur? Where does it apply?

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There is a running list of exceptions and modifications to the law that makes arranging schedules a nightmare across the country, especially around this time of year.

The added kicker for parents, of course, is in the fall, nobody wants to complain about an extra hour of sleep, right? But, if you are a parent with kids at home, it’s even worse for you, because children don’t follow nationally mandated time shifts. They wake up according to their internal clock, keeping you from that extra hour of sleep.

Daylight Saving Time causes confusion, is an economic drain, causes safety and health problems and is pretty terrible all around. How is it still a thing?

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