So, as you know unless you live beyond the concept of time, the clocks turned back last week; a process that forces millions to endure their daily commutes in darkness. While many have argued that daylight saving time is pointless and should be abolished, I’d like to firmly disagree with that sentiment: saving daylight is brilliant, and we should do it all year.
First, to dispel the most common misconception: farmers have nothing to do with daylight saving time. It was introduced in World War I, first by the Germans, who fancied it a clever way to save fuel for the war effort. The idea quickly caught on and soon, everyone was doing it. Many countries reverted back to standard time after the war, only to pick up daylight saving again during World War II. Daylight saving time is now used in over 70 countries worldwide, although the beginning and end dates vary from country to country.
Because daylight saving time was essentially established for historical reasons that have little bearing on modern society, and because the actual energy savings of turning the clocks forward has since been hotly contested, many will argue that we should do away with daylight saving time altogether. On the other hand, why can’t we rid ourselves of standard time (which, by the way, only encompasses about four months of the year at this point) and enjoy longer evenings year round? Here are three reasons why the latter option makes a lot more sense.
Shifting the Clocks is Bad for Us
A growing body of research indicates that switching the clocks back or forward can have adverse health effects, by disrupting our sleep patterns and leading to short-term sleep deprivation. For instance, a recent study showed that the incidence of heart attacks is significantly higher for the first three days after the transition to daylight saving time in the spring. Risk of heart attack was also higher on the first weekday following the transition out of daylight saving time in the autumn. A study published last year corroborated this find, revealing a 21-25 per cent jump in heart attack incidence on the first workday after switching the clocks.
Longer Days are Safer Days
If turning the clocks either direction is a source of undue insomnia and stress, one might argue that we simply abolish daylight saving time. But a forthcoming paper authored by researchers suggests the opposite.
According to the study, making daylight saving time permanent could dramatically reduce the number of rapes and robberies, which most often occur in the evening commuting hours between 5 and 8 pm. The researchers note that when the period of daylight saving time was increased by four weeks in the States in 2007, “robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of 7 per cent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight”. This led to an estimated annual social cost savings of $59 million.
And no, the drop in evening crime wasn’t compensated by an increase in morning assaults. Criminals (shocker) don’t appear to be early birds.
We All Like Daylight!
How many people do you know who look forward to spending their entire evening in darkness four months out of the year? Commuting home in darkness. Going on a run after work in darkness — or better yet, not, because it isn’t safe. Picking up your kids after school as the sun’s final fleeting rays bend distressingly low across the horizon. When the sky goes dark before you’ve finished your daily grind and had a chance to relax, an irresistible little voice starts whispering in your ear. You know the one I’m talking about. “Don’t even bother going out and enjoying the world,” the voice says. “It’s been a long day. There’s a frozen pizza in your freezer. There’s a new season of that thing you like on Netflix.” How many hours of human creativity and productivity have been wasted in the name of inexplicably early evenings we can only imagine.
Daylight saving time might have a weird, misguided origin story, but that doesn’t make standard time better. If there’s one thing nearly all human beings will agree on, it’s that we like the goddamn Sun. Let’s stop needlessly wasting it.
Top image: Phil Dolby / Flickr