Daylight Saving Time (DST) is one of those interesting things like mumble rap, Donald Trump, and herpes — we all know it sucks, nobody likes it, yet we accept it as an inextricable part of our lives. We’ve always lived with DST so we just accept it as part of the way the world works. Gravity, wind, and Daylight Saving Time — all natural and inarguably entwined within our souls.
You don’t have to look further than the name to realize none of us really know anything about it. Almost everybody (including me) makes the second word plural for absolutely no other reason than it sounds better.
But just like mumble rap, Daylight Saving Time was created by people and can be undone by people. In fact, Hawaii and Arizona have taken it upon themselves to say, “No thank you” to this bullshit.
But aside from the silly practice of figuring out how to change the time on your oven twice a year, DST has some very real effects on the population.
Daylight Saving Time starts in the spring and ends in the fall. And the initial thrusting forward an hour into the future has some ripple effects.
First, car crashes tend to spike the first week of DST. A study by Current Biology estimates that getting rid of DST would save 28 fatal crashes throughout that first week every year.
Daylight Saving Time is also associated with a 24% increase in heart attacks on the first Monday after the time hop. Our sleep is very important. We’re creatures of habit. And disrupting our standard sleep schedules by even one hour can have some very real effects.
This alteration of your sleep pattern also poses a risk to your brain. There is an 8% higher risk of suffering a stroke within the first two days after the time change, either in the spring or the fall.
How It Started
One of the most common questions regarding DST is how the hell did it get started?
As with many things in life, it started as a joke. Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris proposing a practice of altering our clocks to run in accordance with the sun. It even included a math equation to estimate the amount of saved candle wax (64,050,000 pounds).
It wasn’t until the first world war that the practice was actually utilized in a handful of European countries and America. The goal was to limit the amount of artificial light to be used by troops in order to conserve fuel.
And this is still the argument for its use today — reduction of utility costs and resources. People also like to lump in the idea that it reduces crime, but most home break-ins actually happen during the day. Nobody wants to fight an angry and scared homeowner in their underwear, so they just wait until you’re at work. Criminals are actually quite sensible (for some things).
The practice stayed in place through WWII and was then left up to the states. And guess what? The states screwed it all up by doing whatever they hell they wanted to.
For example, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN at one point operated on different clocks. So you could get out of work in one city and go back in time before sitting down at the dinner table in the other city.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 standardized the practice across the United States. Before this, each state had their own zany rules for Daylight Saving Time which made shipping and travel far more difficult than it needed to be.
Why It’s Outdated
The goal of DST is to save energy, and it might actually do that. It’s said to save about 0.5% of used electricity every day it’s in place. And while that might sound negligible, it adds up to enough electricity to power 100,000 households for a year.
This study is debated, with some findings suggesting these benefits are location-specific. Other studies have found an increase of heating and cooling needs, which offsets the benefits.
But let’s continue on the assumption that DST actually saves on electricity usage. This begs another question:
Average monthly energy bills range between $100 and $150 per month depending on your location. For a 30 day month, your average daily bill is between $3.33 and $5. That makes your daily savings between just under two cents to just over two cents.
The hassle associated with changing our sleep schedules — not to mention the fatal car crashes and heart attacks and strokes — is not worth saving two cents.
How to End It
7 in 10 Americans want the practice of switching our clocks twice a year to stop. There has actually been a lot of proposed legislation to either keep standard time all year or keep DST all year. In fact, there’s a bill being proposed right now to keep us on DST at least through next fall.
Unfortunately, this is the only way to do anything about it. It was signed into law which means it needs to be signed out of law. And unfortunately, our government can’t even agree on whether or not people should be allowed to see a doctor when they’re sick, so we’re probably going to have to wait a while for them to do something about a dumb clock system.
But for the hopeful, here’s a link to a petition to end Daylight Saving Time.