The anachronistic Daylight Savings Time change wreaks utter havoc
This past Monday morning, thousands of Chattanoogans stumbled their way into work trying to adjust their body clocks to Daylight Savings Time, asking themselves “Why do we still do this?”
Invented by Benjamin Franklin, an otherwise clear-thinking individual, many historians believe it was done simply as a joke.
“I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was but six o’clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day,” Franklin wrote in 1784 in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris. “I looked forward, too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day till towards the end of June; and that at no time in the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o’clock.”
In reading his full essay, it becomes apparent his suggestion of adding daylight to the clock was a swipe at the French, of whom Franklin had a well-known love-hate relationship.
Flash-forward to 1918, as the U.S. was involved with what became known as World War One, Daylight Savings Time was formally adopted under the belief that people tend be more active in the evenings, so the extra daylight there would mean fewer hours where people lit their houses at night.
After the war, farmers lobbied successfully to get the wartime measure repealed, yet with a new war breaking our just a few decades later, the dreaded DST was reintroduced in 1942 during World War Two.
Things muddled around a bit—some states adopted it, while others did not—until 1966 when the federal government formally reintroduced the concept nationwide, with the exception of Arizona and Hawaii. To make matters worse, in 2007, Congress passed a law that extended DST by a full month, ironically making “Standard” Time in effect in fewer months than “Savings” time.
The argument in favor of the time change is that it “saves energy”. And while this may have been true decades ago (something that has never been statistically proven), it is most certainly not true today. Most current research shows no energy savings whatsoever between the two time periods. In fact, a 2008 study published in The National Bureau of Economic Research showed that DST actually increases residential electricity demand.
And then comes the human cost. No less an authority than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published numerous studies that show that insufficient sleep has become a major health problem for Americans—and DST increases the problem.
Nearly 60 percent of workers feel the effects of lost sleep on the Monday after DST, and almost three-quarters of those over 30 say the lost sleep affects their productivity.
To make matters worse, a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology has found a direct correlation between the time change and a rise in workplace injuries. Add in statistical increases in traffic accidents in the week following our “spring forward”, and you have a sleep-deprived recipe for disaster.
So why do we still do this? Again, a very good question. The facts speak for themselves, but before anything can be done, we have to get our political leaders involved. Maybe someone will finally cut through the Washington gridlock and restore sanity to our clocks.