Turning back the clock

Iliana Woloch ‘24, News Editor

Alarms, siblings, and homework that still lies half finished on the kitchen counter, alongside a bowl of cereal that will never be eaten — all are obstacles in the desperate rush to get out the door and to the bus stop on time. Normally, this obstacle course could have been avoided, but today it feels as if time is running away. An hour of the day has simply vanished into thin air, avoiding capture until spring when it will finally come out of hiding. 

This is daylight savings time (DST), the semi-annual event when time shifts and even the best of clocks are wrong. In the spring we lose an hour, in fall we take it back. This has been the way for over a hundred years, and yet it feels like we never see it coming. 

Daylight savings time was originally introduced to aid farmers – giving them an extra hour of light in which to work – as well as to help save money on electricity and other means of lighting one’s home once the sun has set. However, fast forward about a century or so, and the negatives introduced by this change may just outweigh the positives. 

Having an hour more of sunlight in the day helps encourage exercise, as it is much easier to go for a jog, or play soccer in your backyard, when the sun is still up. 

That being said, is it possible that DST does more harm than good when it comes to our health? Daylight savings time disrupts sleeping patterns and causes the general populace to show signs of sluggishness and sleep deprivation, particularly in the aftermath of the spring forward. Consequently, a spike in car accidents, workplace injuries, depression, and many other mental and physical illnesses routinely occur following DST. 

 University of Michagan’s Doctor of Medicine, Anita Shelgikar, said, “Switching to Daylight Saving Time is associated with cardiovascular morbidity, a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke, and an increase in hospital admissions for irregular heartbeats.” With these many risks concerning the general public’s health, should this adjusting in time really continue? 

Many would argue that while there are some slight repercussions for a small minority of U.S. citizens as a result of DST, the pros still manage to outweigh the cons. The added hour of sunshine helps to boost the tourism industry as travelers and window shoppers have more time to explore the area and potentially spend more money. 

This extra daytime also increases the safety of those in our community. Safety is the main argument for keeping daylight savings time in place. Studies show that by allowing for one extra hour of sun, DST contributes to reducing pedestrian fatalities by 13 percent during the early hours of the morning and the late hours at night. Additionally a seven percent decrease in robberies was found following the spring shift to DST. This is due to the fact that car crashes and robberies are much more likely to occur at night than during the day. 

Junior Valencia Hill said, “[DST] makes mornings more enjoyable when it is bright outside.” Sunlight has been shown to increase the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone associated with helping someone feel calm and focused. As the sun shines down on everyday civilization, it is clear to see the positive impact on a person’s mood, starting them on the right path to start the day. 

Fall back and spring forward also ensure the majority of the populous’ active hours coincide with the hours of light. This, in theory, eliminates some of the need for artificial lighting, although the change in light is less noticeable nearer the equator and the poles. However, in today’s modern society – littered with indoor electronic means of entertainment such as computers, televisions, ipads, and phones – DST has little to no effect on the amount of electricity used. Surprisingly, in 2006, when Indiana became the 48th state to observe DST in the U.S., a study found that the amount of energy usage throughout the state actually increased. 

Sophomore Jessica Jubik said, “I don’t think we really need [DST] anymore because we depend so much on artificial light already.” Jubik then went on to reiterate that though it may have been beneficial to have an extra hour of natural light a century ago, the abundance of artificial light in our society makes the gesture seem unnecessary. 

As the schedules of hundreds are shifted and the sense of time becomes rewritten, society must decide if the extra 60 minutes of sun is worth the time it takes to readjust. For better or for worse, it would appear that for the time being, this semi-annual disruption is here to stay.

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