Is it Time to Rethink Daylight Saving?
(Editor's Note: This guest blog post was written by Judi Biederman, editor of
ADVANCE for Hearing Practice Management).
People are dragging and moaning around the office today (me included) and Facebook is full of complaints about the change to Daylight Saving Time (DST): people had trouble getting up for work this morning and are feeling tired and cranky, while many parents had difficulty getting kids to sleep last night. One young mother wrote, "I'll bet Ben Franklin didn't have any young children when he came up with this brilliant idea."
I'll bet computers and smart phones didn't run the world then, either. A quick search of the Internet this morning turned up reports that the business world suffers because computers and clocks also get cranky when the time changes; the iconic i-Phone apparently bungled the time switch both yesterday and last November, causing people across the nation to miss appointments. There also are reports of problems and costs involved in resetting automated equipment, time clocks and scheduling mechanisms in the workplace.
And that's not even considering our farmers, whose work lives revolve around the movement of the sun rather than some arbitrary time on a clock face. Their lives are severely inconvenienced when the time changes but animals still need to be fed and crops need to be watered according a regular schedule.
Considering all these elements of time change, I wasn't sure if I felt vindicated or further upset to see a press release from Loyola University Health System announcing that DST also can be hazardous to health. Apparently, studies have shown there is a higher incidence of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries on the first Monday after the time switch. Dr. Nidhi Undevia, medical director of the Sleep Program at Loyola University Health System, comments, "Many people already are chronically sleep-deprived, and Daylight Saving Time can make them even more tired for a few days."
As that quote illustrates, sleep deprivation already is a societal problem, made more worrisome in the wake of recent research documenting the importance of sleep to good health. It seems to me that life is tough and stressful enough--does it make sense for us to be implementing a bi-annual schedule change that creates havoc with our circadian rhythms? Is any time policy worth the chance of being injured in an automobile or workplace accident because someone is tired?
If it were true that DST cuts down on energy use, as claimed when the idea was conceived and implemented, I would say that we just have to figure out a way to make it work in our lives. But times have changed, and some studies now are showing that energy savings during Daylight Saving Time may be inconsequential. If that is true, why are we doing this to ourselves?
If there is no real benefit to DST and a very real possibility that abrupt time changes can cause health detriments, maybe it's time to rethink our time change policies. After all, we're supposedly in an era of healthcare reform, and the health issues surrounding DST may make it one of the things that needs reforming.
What do you think? Should DST continue? Why or why not?