Daylight Savings Begins

By: Ashley Young — Correspondent

Americans lost an hour of sleep this past weekend in order to gain an extra hour of daylight as we “sprang forward.”  

Daylight savings time (DST)  began in 1918 when a bill introduced the idea of a seasonal time shift. It was quickly appealed but then re-established by former President Theodore Roosevelt during World War II and called the time change “War Time.” This idea lasted until 1945, and it wasn’t until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the regulated yearly time change we still use today.

Many today argue that the change is inconvenient, but it also has serious health and economic consequences. So, any states that currently follow the time shift are looking to switch to making daylight saving time permanent. 

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey in an opinion piece with CNN says that darker days call for negative impacts on mental and physical health. “The biannual tradition of ‘spring forward’ and ‘fall back’ disrupts circadian sleeping patterns, causing confusion, sleep disturbances and even an elevated risk to heart health,” said Markey.

SHS senior Rosie Leonard says a permanent daylight saving time would be better for mental health. “During the winter when it gets darker so early, you feel more fatigued and tired and have less motivation to do work at night,” said Leonard.

“A Danish study found hospitals see an 11% uptick in patients with symptoms of depression immediately following the switch from sunnier daylight saving time to the darker standard time in the fall,” said Markey. 

“By making our days brighter year-round, we can permanently speed up the clock on seasonal depression triggered by the dark days of winter,” added Markey.

SHS senior Jessica Brakaj says the time shift doesn’t really impact her except on those two days of the year when the clocks themselves change. “I like the time change in the fall because I like getting the extra hour of sleep, but I feel like whether we make the change or not will not make a difference,” said Brakaj.

Switching to a permanent daylight saving time could have positive effects on the economy as well. Markey argues that with more daylight, people will be out spending more. “Extra sunshine in the evenings can give our economy a boost, with consumers spending up 3.5% when we have more daylight in the evenings, according to the same study in Denmark,” said Markey.

Some Americans have issues with the short-term negative effects of the daylight savings schedule. The time shifts can also be known to have long-term benefits. Critics of daylight savings time typically tend to focus on the two days per year when the clock changes.

David Prerau, one of the world’s leading authorities on DST, says that to focus on those two days is “ridiculous.” “There’s a big difference between the effects of the one-hour change from standard time to daylight saving time—those effects take place over a day, maybe up to three days—versus daylight saving time itself, which lasts eight months,” said Prerau.

“Opponents of DST note that, in the week following the spring clock change, traffic accidents spike. This is true! But, again, DST lasts eight months, not a week, and the net effect of DST on traffic accidents is overwhelmingly positive,” said Dan Nosowitz in his article with Popular Mechanics. 

Markey says that the Senate has introduced the Sunshine Protection Act which would amend the legislation which created time zones, the time change and how times are determined, to make brighter days a reality year-round. “Already, 20 of the 48 states that observe the time change have passed proposals for year-round daylight,” said Markey.

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