Springing forward is simply insanity

Published 8:55 am Monday, March 11, 2024

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Warning: Unpopular opinion ahead.

This weekend, as we do every second weekend in March, we’ll be “springing forward” to set our clocks ahead one hour in the perpetuation of a ritual that isn’t good for our physical or mental health or our economy as Daylight Saving Time returns.

Yes, that’s Daylight Saving Time, not Savings.

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And it refers to an antiquated practice designed to squeeze as much productivity time as possible in society while theoretically saving energy costs.

It’s a ridiculous concept.

The history of Daylight Saving Time is old. Many say that Benjamin Franklin invented the concept in 1784, believing that rising earlier would save on candle uses and therefore save people money. In 1907, a British builder named William Willett published a pamphlet titled “A Waste of Daylight.” In it, he proposed setting the clocks ahead one hour because, as he argued, “the sun shines upon the land for several hours each day while we are asleep.”

The UK was the first to legislate the changing of clocks, with Germany following. In 1918, the United States mandated the time change through the end of World War I. The time change was implemented again during World War II, when afterwards it stopped again. In 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which divided the year into two six-month periods: Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time. In 2005, DST gained two more months, and the period of “standard” time fell to only four short months.”

This twice-yearly resetting of clocks is insanity, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves.

Numerous studies have shown that disruptions to our natural circadian rhythm are incredibly harmful to our physical and mental health. According to a survey from The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 63 percent of Americans would prefer to eliminate DST and 55 percent report tiredness after the switch.

Johns Hopkins University says “evidence points to acute increases in adverse health consequences from changing the clocks, including heart attack and stroke.” Moreover, arguments that more daylight hours are better for mental health were refuted in a 2020 study that suggested the time change actually exacerbates mood disorders, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

And, as parents can attest, the time change is a nightmare for children and teenagers. Sleep is critical during these formative years, and even slight changes to routine can seem catastrophic. Anyone who has tried to put a toddler to bed while the sun is still shining in the sky can attest to that. For teenagers, who need even more sleep despite what they believe, studies show they lose an average of 32 minutes of sleep a night after the time change, leading to increases to grogginess, slower reaction times and a loss of attentiveness.

Studies show a 6 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents during Daylight Saving Time and an increase in energy consumption of about 1 percent due in part to an increase in air conditioning use.

So why do we continue to embrace the swapping of morning sunshine for evening sunlight?

A YouGov poll of 1,000 adults in the United States showed that 62 percent of us want to eliminate the ridiculous changing of clocks twice a year. Among those, only 26 percent support year-round Standard Time; some 56 percent support year-round Daylight Saving Time.

Congress has given states the option of establishing permanent Standard Time, but not the option of implementing permanent Daylight Saving Time, and efforts to implement permanent Daylight Saving Time on a national level meet repeated – and valid – opposition from medical and scientific communities, as well as lots of folks who seem to intrinsically understand that Standard Time is just more natural, more fitting for our lives.

As for me, I don’t need an extra hour of sunlight at the end of my day. I’d much rather rise with the sun in the morning; work and play during the daylight hours we have; and stop swapping those clocks around twice a year.

Stacy G. Graning is regional editor of The Democrat. Contact her at stacy.graning@natchezdemocrat.com.