Time (Again) For a Change on Our Clock

Time (Again) For a Change on Our Clock

Time (Again) For a Change blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: A red sun behind some clouds over the ocean.After gutting it out last year during the changing of the clock—the dreaded springing forward practice that should have died long before VCRs did—I decided to skip my annual grumbling about the insanity of Daylight Savings Time (DST).

It isn’t the longer daylight hours that upset me, but the inane practice of observing it two-thirds of the year. No sooner do most of us get used to standard time than we have to endure the loss of an hour of sleep, throwing our biological clocks into chaos.

I figured Congress’ Sunshine Protection Act of 2023 would meet the same fate as the 2022 version: death by inaction. Maybe I should have placed a bet on the odds of that happening; it would have been the easiest money I ever made.

The trouble is, after skipping my griping in this space last year, the first week of March I decided to take up the banner again. The reason? A pair of stories in Time magazine about the unhealthy aspects of DST.

An Abhorrent Practice

The first appeared a few days before DST dawned (pun intended), under the headline, “Daylight Saving Time Is the Worst.”

“It’s bad for health, bad for safety, bad for your mood, and just plain unpopular,” wrote Jeffrey Kluger. “But that doesn’t stop us from changing the clocks, pointlessly, twice a year.”

Two of the leading reasons he outlined for kicking DST down the road:

  • It’s not effective

Stanford University did a meta-analysis of 44 studies that showed the supposed benefits of reducing energy consumption belong on the shelf next to nineteenth-century snake oil. Why? Because DST only results in a 0.34% reduction in electricity consumption.

If that weren’t bad enough, Kluger wrote that a 2008 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that daylight can actually increase consumption by about 1%, partly because of greater air conditioning use during the longer days.

  • It’s lousy for health

A sleep expert at Johns Hopkins University cited a range of problems that accompany the daylight sleight-of-hand. Downsides include increased risk of heart attack, stroke, inflammatory markers, and even suicide.

Professor Adam Spira also cited one recent study that showed moving clocks forward can increase traffic fatalities by 6% because of “circadian scrambling and sleep deprivation.”

Were gun-toting gangs doing something similar on the streets of our nation’s capital, the White House would be calling out the National Guard.

Same Old Same OldThe Inner Clock: Living in Sync with Our Circadian Rhythms Hardcover – September 24, 2024 by Lynne Peeples (Author)

No sooner had I done a little fist-pumping after reading Kluger’s article than Time ran a second piece two days later by Lynne Peeples.

She noted that on a recent trip to Tucson she heard no grumbling about a pending hour of lost sleep. That’s because Arizona is one of the two brilliant states (Hawaii being the other) that don’t observe DST.

“Research tells us that changing our clocks burdens us with a host of health and safety problems, on top of the annoyances,” Peeples wrote. “The polls tell us that we widely agree we should stop … Yet, here we still are fiddling with our clocks, without an end to the practice in sight.”

Perhaps this science journalist will get a broader hearing through her forthcoming book (Sept. 24 release date), The Inner Clock: Living in Sync with our Circadian Rhythms.

In it, Peeples explores a growing scientific movement about what makes our internal clocks tick and how we can re-set them for a better life.

We can only hope that science will triumph where politics have failed. Namely, convincing our leaders that we must stop fiddling with time.

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