People hate changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time11/06/2023
In mid-March 2022, right after we lost an hour with the start of Daylight Savings time, the Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act to eliminate the practice of biannual time changes altogether. As Kaiser noted at the time, “These f–kers can’t agree on reproductive rights, guns or gay rights, but they agree that this clock thing is making everyone grumpy.” Since then, we’ve observed three more time changes, including last weekend’s fall back on Sunday. While the Act continues to languish in Congress, health experts have confirmed this breaking news: it still makes people grumpy. Yahoo Life rounded up some info on the origins of the custom and the big flaw in the well-meaning Sunshine Protection Act:
Americans want DST to end: A recent survey commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that 6 in 10 Americans (64%) support eliminating seasonal time changes, with 27% of respondents saying public health and safety was the top factor for elected officials to consider when discussing legislation about daylight saving time.
A little history: The daylight saving ritual has been practiced (and often despised) in the U.S. since it was first introduced, in 1918, as a way to conserve energy during World War I — though subsequent studies have found little or no energy conservation benefit. Contrary to popular belief, it was not advocated for by farmers, who found the biannual changes to their workday disruptive and called for repealing daylight saving time in 1919. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 made daylight saving time more standardized nationwide, and today most of the U.S. — with the exception of Hawaii, Arizona and many U.S. territories — observes the twice-yearly changing of the clocks.
The economy also dislikes DST: Proponents of the bill tout the supposed economic advantages of one more hour of daylight at the end of the day. Often-cited research by the JPMorgan Chase Institute in 2016 found that Consumer spending dropped 3.5% after the end of daylight saving time in November — though that study was relatively limited, in that it focused solely on spending in Los Angeles. The retail, hospitality and service industries also assert that they benefit big time when consumers have one more hour of daylight at the end of the workday to be out and about spending money; in the 1980s, officials representing the golf industry claimed that one month of extra sunlight would increase their sales revenue by $200 million.
Our sleep suffers: Psychologist Shelby Harris, director of sleep health at Sleepopolis, tells Yahoo Life that both time changes, in the fall and the spring, can significantly affect the quality and quantity of sleep. “When we lose an hour of sleep in the spring, it can lead to a reduction in sleep quality and take our bodies longer to adjust to an earlier bedtime,” she says. Business Insider reports that on the Monday after daylight saving time begins in March, hospitals report a 24% spike in heart attack visits as Americans lose an hour of sleep. Hospitals see the opposite trend in November, with heart attack visits dropping 21% the day after we turn back the clocks and gain an hour of sleep. But even that extra hour can have adverse effects.
What the Sunshine Protection Act got wrong: Health experts agree that we should ditch biannual clock changes, but they say having permanent standard time — not permanent daylight saving time, as the Sunshine Protection Act proposes — is the way to go. “If the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, people may experience more sleep difficulties with waking up in the morning and falling asleep at night,” Harris says. “Making daylight saving time permanent would mean we have less light in the morning to help wake us up and more light in the evening, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Teenagers, who already find it challenging to be alert in the morning, especially due to early school start times, would have the hardest time adapting to permanent daylight saving time with reduced morning light.”
[From Yahoo! Life]
Of course the Senate picked the wrong time to protect. It’s not like they have access to expert opinion or the latest research or anything. This isn’t even a nuanced issue, there are only two options to choose from! And the science clearly points to keeping standard time. At least I know how we can get back at the Senators: sic all those angry, sleep-deprived teenagers on them. But if any argument will actually make the elimination of Daylight Savings happen, it’s the economy, stupid. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) Moving past that hilarious 1980s anecdote about the golf industry, the overall message from businesses makes sense — more daylight means people staying out in the world later. Whether or not we have money to spend during that extra hour, is another reason for our collective grumpitude.
Photos credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pixabay, RDNE stock project and Mister Mister on Pexels
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