Clocks fell back by an hour on November 5th in most of the States and Canada as the Daylight Savings Time ended for 2017. Sure, this gave us an extra hour of sleep this past Sunday, but are the benefits of this semi-annual tradition of changing clocks really worth the trouble of going through it?
Originally Daylight Saving was proposed as a way to save on candles and to allow people to have some extra evening time of sunshine to enjoy after the work hours. As explained by National Geographic magazine, the time when this practice was first adopted by countries, was around the World War I – when the main energy source was coal. So by switching their clocks back and forth people apparently were able to save energy and support the war effort.
Since then a lot has changed in our lifestyle, energy spending patterns and sources of our energy. In the modern day, the energy savings from the time changing practice provide more questionable value. Living in a Northern country, we see more dramatic difference in the day length between the summer and winter seasons. At the end of the Daylight Saving we hit the time of the year when the sun sets as early as 4:30 pm. Especially if you spend your day hours working, you could pretty much go good 4 months in the year without really seeing daylight.
On the other hand, for my friends who live in Southern states, the opposite is true. With the average temperature of 27 C degrees all year long and with scorching heat for a significant portion of their year, foregoing the Daylight Saving would provide much-anticipated relief. It would allow them to enjoy a bit longer the night hours which is the only time when the temperature drops down.
I know people who report that changing time twice a year takes a toll on their health and wellbeing. Their biological clock gets set off and they experience symptoms close to a smaller scale version of jet lag. I also have family members with younger children who experience unwelcome disruptions to their schedules with the transition from one time to another as babies and toddlers take a long time to adjust to the changes. In the springtime the little ones cause extra fuss over the bedtime routine as they don’t understand why Mommy puts them to bed while they still feel like playing. In the fall they don’t get why they are so cranky and sleepy when others around them seem to be still up and running.
We may say all of these effects are just temporary inconveniences as we go through our body rhythm changes. And it is true – we do eventually get over our sleep deficiency or sunshine deprivation. But my question is – is it really worth it for us to go through this transition twice a year everywhere? Speaking in manufacturing terms, the “cost-benefit” type of analysis of this practice would prove it to be more of an archaism than a necessity in this day and age. Some other parts of the world have already moved away from the practice of Daylight Saving and made a decision to stay all year long in the time that works best for their reality.
Maybe it is the time to revisit the subject of time change and see it for what it is – a perfect example of how we do things “because we have always done it this way”. What are your thoughts? Please share how the semi-annual time change affects you and if you find it useful.