Did you know Daylight Savings Time started out as a joke by Ben Franklin? I’m pretty sure the joke has ended up being on us.
Working for a global company, all DST does is cause one month of pain and suffering when meetings clash all over the place: Europeans change at a different time than Americans and Arizona doesn’t change at all. This means for about 2 weeks in the spring and a week in the fall, no one knows when their meetings are, as every country changes seemingly on its own schedule. We changed the times when we moved to and from Daylight Savings Time in 2007; couldn’t we have at least changed to the time that Europe observes DST? That would have extended DST, and put all the northern hemisphere countries who observe DST on the same darn schedule. Too logical? Probably.
It also serves to elevate my blood pressure for the seven months from March to November when most of my coworkers say things like “The meeting is at 9 am CST”, and I have to bite my tongue from saying, “No, actually it’s NOT because we’re in Daylight Savings Time, and you look like an idiot. If it were CST, we’ll all be an hour late to your meeting.” I’m still employed, so I’ve managed not to say this out loud.
Also, as every parent knows, kids don’t have a switch to set them back or forward an hour. So, while I gratefully enjoy an extra hour’s worth of sleep in the fall, anyone with kids hates daylight savings time for a good 2 weeks or so until the kids adjust.
In addition, like when you travel and are subject to jet lag, DST mimics that effect. According to National Geographic, Research suggests that the human body’s circadian clock, kept in tune by light and darkness, never adjusts to the changing chronology of DST. Also, Time Magazine writes:
But studies show that Daylight Saving Time actually results in a one percent overall increase in residential electricity. And that it messes with sleeping patterns. Oh, and also it may cause heart attacks, according to the American Journal of Cardiology.
So, you might ask yourself, why do we even have Daylight Savings Time in the first place? Well, contrary to popular belief, it’s not for the farmers. In fact, the farmers kept the US from instituting daylight savings time except during wartime until 1966. the most common reason is that it saves us energy by putting the daylight hours later in the year. In fact, in the 1970s, the Department of Transportation performed a study which showed that we saved 1% of our electricity usage nationally – which is no small number.
But keep in mind, in the 1970s, we didn’t have an air conditioner in every home, and we didn’t have the proliferation of electronics we do now. Lucky for us, we have a recent shift in DST to examine: in 2006, Indiana began observing Daylight Savings Time, instead of ignoring it like Arizona continues to do. Guess what happened? According to Scientific American, studies showed that the residential electricity actually increased by 1%, costing over $9 million!
About the only industry DST benefits is golf: according to scientific american, the extra month of daylight saving was worth up to $400 million annually in extra sales and fees. Oh, and the U.S. barbecue industry noted increased profits of about $150 million as well.
Whew! At least my semi-annual jacked up sleeping schedule and social jet lag has a purpose..