DO WE NEED DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME?
On November 7, 2021, the clocks were pushed an hour back, ending daylight savings. While some were elated about the extra hour of sleep, others mourned the loss of daylight. The recent end of daylight savings times has caused many people to wonder why we even still utilize daylight savings. Many people feel daylight savings is disruptive, and governments around the world have discussed scratching the seasonal clock change because of people’s negative reactions to the time change.
Daylight savings has many negative side effects, which can explain why many countries and states want to end the practice altogether. One major negative effect of ending daylight savings time is that people's physical and mental health worsens when they spend more hours in darkness. Wendy Hall, a registered nurse and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, said switching from daylight savings to standard time is “very hard on people’s biological rhythms.” Additionally, studies show that stroke rates after the clocks turn increase in numbers, especially when the clocks are turned forward in March.
Oftentimes, the time shift is compared to taking a flight across time zones and experiencing jet lag. Although this comparison is usually used to highlight the negative effects of switching the clocks, people argue that by this logic, switching the clock is no big deal since people fly from between time zones without all this controversy.
Daylight savings time came into existence in the early 1900s. The first documented adoption of daylight savings was in a small town called Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada. John Hewitson believed changing the clock to gain an extra hour of daylight would be beneficial since it would give working people a chance to go out in the evenings while the sun was still shining. During the first world war, the concept of daylight savings time was adopted by the US and European nations. Daylight savings was officially adopted in the United States in 1916 when President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to save Americans money on electric-powered lighting by having the sun out for additional hours.
Today, 70 countries change their clocks twice a year in observance of daylight savings. This includes most of North America, Europe, parts of South America, and New Zealand. Countries such as India, China, Japan, and certain countries near the equator do not follow the same observance. The European Union has recently considered whether or not to observe daylight savings. According to the Washington Post, the European Union’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, told German reporters that most people want to ditch changing the clocks and utilize daylight savings time all year round. However, the Washington Post said that even if the European Union approves the change, it will still need to be accepted by the 28 States and parliament of the EU - a seemingly impossible goal. In Poland and Russia, the practice was ditched years ago, and Morocco recently stopped switching the clocks back.
Continuing daylight savings has been an ongoing debate in American state legislatures as well. In recent years, nearly every state has contemplated permanently switching to either permanent standard time or permanent daylight savings time. Since 2015, at least 350 bills and resolutions regarding daylight savings time have been introduced in nearly every state, but most have not passed. In the last four years, 19 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to provide for year-round daylight savings time. States like Hawaii and parts of Arizona have already decided to stop changing the clocks. In 2018, Florida became the first state to implement legislation to observe DST permanently.
The controversy surrounding daylight saving times continues today. More countries and states will likely decide to do away with switching the clocks in the future, but until then, we can only hope the beginning and end of daylight saving time will not be a large nuisance in the coming years.
Rice, Doyle. “19 States Have Enacted Legislation or Passed Resolutions to Provide for Year-Round Daylight Saving Time.” Https://Amp.usatoday.com/Amp/6233980001, 6 Nov. 2021, https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/6233980001.
Reed, Jim. “Daylight Saving Time | State Legislation.” NCSL, NCSL, 8 Oct. 2021, https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/daylight-savings-time-state-legislation.aspx.