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Archive for March 8, 2013

Daylight Saving Time: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

I hate Daylight Saving Time!

Photo from ClipArt

Photo from ClipArt

I know many people really love having that extra hour of sunlight available in the evening rather than in the morning.  But I am not one of them.  I am a night person, always have been.  My internal clock or rhythms really hate making the adjustment to Daylight Saving Time.  If I have trouble being awake and alert for an 8 am meeting as it is in Standard Time, then “springing forward” so that 8 am meeting is really starting at 7 am is next to impossible.  And for weeks, actually for the months until we “fall back” to regular, normal Standard Time, I feel that difference.  I groan, “But it is really only X o’clock.”

Knowing how I hate this upcoming time change, my sister forwarded an article that explains how Daylight Saving Time contributes to an increased risk of heart attack and other severe problems.  The author Joseph Mercola offers this summary:  “There is very little good to be said about switching to Daylight Saving Time. Research is pointing to a long list of adverse effects, including increased heart attack risk, increased automobile accidents, lost productivity at work, increased chances of getting sick, and even higher suicide rates. There is also little evidence to suggest that DST reduces energy usage, which was its original intent.”

Photo from ClipArt

Photo from ClipArt

So why did we start this crazy time change practice anyway?  In 1895 George Vernon Hudson first proposed a 2-hour daylight saving shift.  He lived in New Zealand and was an entomologist.  When he got off work from his day-job, he wanted more hours of sunlight available to him in those early evening hours, so he could collect bugs.  Germany was the first country to officially use Daylight Saving Time during World War I.  The main reason back then was to save money by not needing to burn light bulbs so much.

Photo from ClipArt

Photo from ClipArt

Today, some countries do follow a Daylight Saving Time practice, but there is no consistency in when the clocks are changed, for how long, and by how many hours.  When I went to school in Indiana, where my part of the state did not change their clocks, my roommate’s boyfriend had a heck of time getting home on time in Chicago—sometimes he was 2 hours away from home, sometimes 3 hours.  I once missed a flight at an airport an hour away because I forgot that that area had changed their clocks months earlier.  Expand this to arranging schedules and meetings on an international level and you can imagine the nuisance factor of this time change practice.

In addition, current research offers contradictory and inconclusive data about whether energy costs are decreased because of the change to Daylight Saving Time.  There are studies that productivity at work goes down dramatically in the weeks following the time changes.  And now, studies show there are health risks.  The following video offers a nice little history of Daylight Saving Time and recounts some of the problems and benefits of this time change practice.

Knowing all this, I firmly stand by my original caution:  Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!  On Monday morning, there are bound to be more heart attacks, more suicides, and more car accidents.  At work, you and others will probably be less productive.  Your energy costs are probably not going to go down, and they might even increase.  Plus I am apt to be cranky—and I bet I am not alone.  All this because a guy wanted more sunlight after work to collect bugs.  Boggles the mind.

FINALLY, MY PERSONAL SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:  Regardless of how silly I think it is to have to change the clocks this weekend, don’t forget to do it if you live in an area that follows this tradition.  Most Fire Departments suggest that you also change the batteries in your smoke detectors and other such early warning devices.  Have a good weekend!

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