(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion

Column: Daylight saving time is outdated

The time change has more negatives than benefits.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/shaunthomas18/" target="_self">Shaun Thomas</a>

Shaun Thomas

May 19, 2022
I recall a story when about two months ago I had a meeting scheduled with someone from India at 8 a.m. Indian Standard Time. I joined the meeting at 6:30 p.m. local time, but the person I was supposed to meet with did not join. I waited for about twenty minutes before I left the call and took a nap.

I woke up about two hours later only to realize that my meeting was at 7:30 p.m. local time after completely forgetting about the annual daylight saving time change that takes place here in the US.

About 70 countries worldwide use Modern Daylight Savings Time, and the entire United States uses DST except for two states: Arizona and Hawaii. The beginning and end times of DST still vary from country to country. DST has only been used for the past century, but ancient civilizations have used comparable practices thousands of years ago.

One example is Ancient Rome, where they adjusted their water clocks on different scales for different months “to adjust the daily schedules to solar time.” Daylight Saving Time was formally invented in 1895 when George Vernon Hudson proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March.

Independently, a man named William Willett suggested another time-saving model where there would be a total of eight-time switches in the year, with the clock moving 20 minutes ahead on each of the four Sundays in April, and back by the same amount of time on the Sundays in September.

Germany first adopted the hour change version of DST in 1916, to conserve more fuel during World War I with the rest of Europe following shortly after. The U.S. soon adopted the policy but due to its unpopularity, it was abolished right after the first world war.

DST became a standard with the passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966 which established a system of changing our clocks throughout the US and its territories for the reason of “saving energy.” Currently, DST starts at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November in the U.S.

There are many unsurprising negative health risks that come with DST that is related to adding and subtracting the hour of sleep. That one hour disrupts our circadian rhythm which throws off our hormones. It might not seem like much, but on a national scale, it actually has a much larger effect, which typically lasts about two weeks.

That loss of sleep can lead to metabolic turmoil and seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that can result from a loss of sunlight in the winter months. With the lack of sleep, there is a 6% increase in fatal car crashes and a 2% decrease in SAT scores that occurred after DST. As a result of this sudden loss of sleep, the workplace and economy are affected.

International trade has existed since the days of ancient civilizations, but advanced technology, the internet and a new form of digital globalization have skyrocketed e-commerce and the global supply chain while significantly easing movement for international business.

Only 70 countries implement daylight saving, and many critics of the policy call the policy “eurocentric” as the European Union comprises one-third of the countries that observe daylight saving. It’s important to note, however, that the EU and the U.S. go into daylight saving time at different times of the year.

This change in time causes missed meetings, which can take weeks to adjust to for many businesses. Also, due to the loss of sleep for workers mentioned earlier, estimates indicate that the American economy loses about $434 million annually.

All this evidence points to the fact that DST is outdated and its cons outweigh its pros. In fact, in some places in the U.S. like Indiana, recent studies have shown that energy use actually increased as a result of daylight savings. Personally, I like to think we haven’t gotten rid of DST because we’re too lazy and just don’t care enough about it.

It’s definitely something we should consider. 

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