It’s that time of year again! But before we “Spring Forward” this Sunday, we thought we’d shed some light on the pros and cons of adjusting our clocks each Spring and Fall.
Daylight Saving Time (“DST”) was originally popularized in Germany during World War I to conserve fuel for the war effort. The United States followed suit and implemented DST in 1918 for the same reason. However, since World War II the use of DST has been inconsistent and often confusing. Only about a third of Americans see the purpose of DST. So why does the United States (in addition to more than 70 countries around the world) continue to use DST today?
Daylight Saving Time shifts the sun rise and set later in the day, so one hour of natural daylight is added to our evening. Although the material effects of DST benefits can be debated, DST proponents argue the benefits of longer evenings include:
- A healthier lifestyle – Longer evenings increases outdoor activity and improves overall health
- A boost to local economy – Economic activity increases as people are more apt to go shopping, go out to restaurants, and do other activities
- Saves energy – less artificial light is needed as people’s active hours more closely coincide with natural daylight
- Increased safety – Crime rates and traffic accidents decrease as a result of less evening activity in the dark
Critics of DST argue that the benefits of DST are minimal and are negated by several disadvantages, which include:
- Bad for your health – Changing sleep patterns, even by one hour, can significantly impact a person’s health. Studies show an uptick in heart attacks, severe headaches, and common illnesses in the week preceding DST.
- Reduced productivity – Workplace productivity the week after DST drastically decreases. People are tired and lethargic due to a reduction in sleep.
- DST is expensive – The opportunity cost of changing clocks, watches, and all other devices can be spent on something more productive.
Although there are advantages and disadvantages, one thing is for certain – homeowners can use DST as a reminder to check their homes for certain items such as smoke detectors, furnaces, batteries, and so on. The economic impacts are still being debated, so for now enjoy that extra hour of sun in the winter!