While I was updating the umpteenth clock in my life from daylight savings time, I thought to myself, “Why? Why in an era of modern technology are we adjusting our clocks away from the natural solar and lunar events that define day and night?” After adjusting the umpteenth+1 clock at work, I decided to sit down and vent a little about why I think we should stop engaging in daylight savings time.
Spring Forward – Fall Back: What is Daylight Savings Time?
If you’re not aware, daylight savings time is a ritual where, in the spring, you set the clocks forward by an hour, then in the fall, you set them back an hour. The idea is, during the spring and summer months, you have more daylight available during the working hours. I’ve read several justifications for how this process began, but growing up in a rural agricultural area, it was mostly explained as a way to help the farmers. By moving the clocks forward, the farmers could be out in the fields later at night and still have light to work by. Once the fall harvest was done, there wasn’t the need for extra daylight, so we roll the clocks back.
Why Don’t We Need More Daylight Year-Round?
Of course, the farmers could also get up earlier in the day when the sun comes up, rather than shift everyone else’s schedule around. After all, changing the clocks during daylight savings time doesn’t actually create any more hours of sunlight. The Earth still rotates at a certain speed, creating X hours of daylight and Y hours of night. Also, with modern technology, farmers have excellent artificial lighting on their farm equipment, which would allow them to work in the fields long into the night if needed.
During the winter when the days are shorter, people can suffer from something called seasonal affective disorder. The body craves sunlight, and the dark mornings and short days of winter can lead to depression. I contend that daylight savings time would be even more advantageous in the winter. By pushing the clocks ahead of sunrise, you could maximise the amount of working time that was available during the shorter daylight hours.
Productivity Loss Due To Time Changes
While there are varying studies out there about this topic, I have to believe that daylight savings time causes some productivity losses in the workplace. In the spring, you “lose” an hour of sleep on the weekend that daylight savings time goes into effect. That means people are coming into work on the following Monday groggier than usual. Who knows how much time is spent changing clocks on microwaves, phones, computers, car stereos, etc. instead of living life and working. Then, in the fall, you “gain” an hour of sleep, but wake up the following Monday to a bleak darkness, since sunrise is now delayed by an hour. Again, you waste time resetting the clocks. Surely there has to be a better way.
I say, let’s pick one spring, set the clocks forward (maybe two hours) then leave them alone. We get more sun during the day year-round. We don’t futz around with tweaking the clocks. Let’s put an end to daylight savings time.
For more background on daylight savings time, check out this page on Daylight Savings Time.