It Is Time for Advocates of Daylight Saving Time to Fallback

The time has finally come for the advocates of daylight saving time (DST) to fall back and concede that the grand time tinkering experiment has failed. The biannual time adjustment has no benefits, but the harsh transition of moving your clock ahead an hour can lead to a cascade of health and safety issues. 

In 1908, DST was implemented for the first time in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. The tireless efforts of Englishman William Willett were responsible for this change, but it was Ben Franklin who first brought the idea to prominence in 1784. His pet theory was that the early daylight hours are wasted because people are still asleep. Moving this hour of daylight to the early evening would benefit commercial activity and save energy. 

“Fast time,” as DST was called at the time, was first signed into law in 1918. The move was made to support the war effort and was made in response to Germany’s adoption of DST. It was repealed after the war ended. 

Daylight saving time was reinstated during World War II and once again repealed at the end of hostilities. This led to two decades of clock chaos that did not stabilize until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act into law. Prior to the passage of the law, each state was responsible for setting the dates and locations where DST was implemented. 

Localized control of time observance led to endless confusion. The state of Iowa alone had 23 different daylight saving dates and by 1963, the federal government had given up attempting to track the timekeeping practices of various locales across the country. 

As described by The Washington Post, “In office buildings, it could be 4 p.m. on one floor and 5 p.m. on another.” Local time would change seven times during a one-hour drive from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia. 

It is unfortunate that making time uniform enshrined the dangerous practice of daylight saving time across most of the continental United States. For many, the time change associated with DST means spending days or even weeks feeling generally groggy and off-kilter.

One the great lies used to support daylight saving time was that it was for the safety of children. The theory was that the extended daylight hours corresponded with the times that children played outside after school. The hope was that fewer children would be hit by cars because of increased daytime visibility. Research has not linked to DST to a statistical increase or decrease in pedestrian versus car accidents. However, there is a spike in fatal traffic accidents in the days after DST in the spring, likely related to a lack of sleep.

Researchers have theorized that keeping DST year-round could potentially decrease deaths related to traffic accidents, saving as many as 366 lives each year. The science is also quite clear on the health effects of this meddling with time. The stark reality is that suicides and heart attacks spike during the days following the time change.  

According to the National Bureau of Standards, DST has virtually no effect on energy usage but results in a huge drop in productivity. According to one 2009 study, workplace accidents and injuries increase by nearly six percent, and nearly 68 percent more work days are lost as a result of injuries following the change to DST.

Getting eight to nine hours of sleep each evening is especially important during the daylight saving time transition. Consider waking up 30 minutes earlier to minimize the impact or move your clock forward on Friday evening to give your body more time to adjust. 

Restorative and rejuvenating sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you read my feature article, “Natural Secrets to Help You Get a Sound Night’s Sleep,” so you are refreshed and ready to spring forward into action after the jarring DST time change.

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