We’re going through another yearly ritual, losing sleep and productivity and growing more irritable all the time. I am, of course, talking about daylight saving time.
We’re told that it helps the days last longer, gives us more free time and benefits our sleep schedule in the long run. But there’s a lot of evidence that it actually causes more harm than good. Instead of gaining sleep, we lose it, and we lose time too; two things that cause more problems in our daily lives than you ever realized.
The tradition of daylight saving is supported by many for the simple reason that it is a tradition. It’s the same for why we still use our measuring system, or the fall-to-spring school calendar, or any number of systems that are quite honestly outdated. Now, yes, it is true that the idea for it was formulated by some of history’s most famous minds (Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson and more), as reported by articles in National Geographic, CNN and The Atlantic. But this doesn’t mean it works.
The primary reason that daylight saving was created in the first place was to save energy — both when Franklin did it to save candles, and President Bush implemented it into a massive energy bill. However, a University of California study found that daylight saving did not change electricity use at all. Other studies say it increases it.
CNN’s 2019 article agrees, citing not only the same studies as The Atlantic, but also a 2008 Department of Energy study, which says, that at most, energy use is decreased by less than one-tenth of one percent during daylight saving.
It might also have an unknown side effect, which is a significant increase in pollution. And, even if this wasn’t true, there would still be reasons not to use daylight saving; its effects on our personal health.
The Canadian newspaper the National Post (from one of the few other countries that follows daylight saving) offers significant evidence that daylight saving can cause laziness, depression and even death. While “fall back” seems to not have any effect on us, with its extra hour of sleep, the effects of “spring forward” are massive, when a loss of sleep affects most aspects of our lives.
The article cites data collected by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, from both Germany and Britain, saying that they “do not find evidence of utility gains when the clocks move back in autumn.” Basically, it means we don’t get any more work done. And during the spring, we get less done. We are more likely to mess around on the internet, more likely to become depressed, and we are more likely to screw up at work. If you work in something like construction, or with chemicals, this can be deadly.
And, if that isn’t enough, that isn’t the only way that you can get hurt by daylight saving. A study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine found that significantly more people have car accidents during daylight saving. The American Psychological Association study found that more people have to miss work due to injury. And a National Geographic article says that it notably raises heart attack rates. So, is it really worth it to do something that doesn’t help us, when it causes this much unhappiness?
That’s why I think daylight saving needs to be ended. People say it helps us gain sleep, saves energy and makes us more productive. But it doesn’t, and in fact, it often does the opposite. People lose their sleep, their time, their livelihood and sometimes, their lives.
It’s an old tradition that we need to get rid of — something outdated and unhelpful, that we say is a tradition, but that really doesn’t make sense. Especially when you consider that almost no other countries practice it, including many of the ones that surpass us in economy, education and health. They must be doing something right, and that might be not using systems like this.