This year, daylight saving time will end on November 4, but rest assured, you will only have to wait until March 10, 2019, to set your clocks forward once again.
Ever since it first became law in 1918, Americans have had a love-hate relationship with daylight saving time (DST). In recent years, the idea has expanded and contracted as a way to save energy or money or as an attempted boost to the economy.
However, in recent years, with increasing numbers of Americans failing to get the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, experts are openly wondering, is the twice-annual clock shift having a negative effect on our physical and financial health?
The Facts Don’t Look Good for Either Health…
There is no doubt that the initial time change when we lose an hour in the spring, has a negative effect on health. It always takes a few days to adapt to the time change that allows us to go to sleep at our regular time and then wake up at our usual time. According to studies, Americans sleep three-quarters of an hour less on the Sunday and Monday following the switch to daylight saving time.
A study a few years back also tracked injuries in the mining industry and found that the initial shift to daylight saving time in the spring saw a six percent increase in worker injuries. There is also an annual spike in the number of heart attacks for the first week following the switch to daylight saving time, while there is a small drop in the number of heart attacks in the week following the end of daylight saving time.
According to data, there are also more traffic accidents on Monday following the switch to DST, due to the lack of sleep and slower reaction time, although most of the rest of the DST period, accident numbers drop. Some researchers have suggested that year-round daylight saving time could prevent nearly 200 motor vehicle deaths and 170 pedestrian fatalities every year.
The time changes can also have a significant effect on finances. Back in 2008, a report from the Independent Institute concluded that the cost to businesses of just setting clocks forward in March and then back again in November cost the nation $1.7 billion. They suggested the time spend changing clocks could be spent on more productive tasks.
Another study, this time by Superior Sleep Products on their website, SleepBetter.org, surveyed how daylight saving time impacted the economies in 300 metropolitan areas, by measuring the impacts of several factors associated with the loss of sleep. The national average loss was $1.67 per capita, with Morgantown, West Virginia, seeing a loss of more than double that, at $3.38 per capita. Now, that may not seem like a lot, but the total impact on the economy came to just under $434 million.
The Weird Aspects of Daylight Saving Time… on Bars
The sudden time changes every March can produce some extraordinary economic effects. For instance, Ohio bars normally are required to have “last call” at 2:30 a.m., but since when the clocks “spring forward,” there is no 2:30 a.m., so bars must shut down at 2:00.
Meanwhile, Bars in Washington, DC, must close at 4 a.m. usually, but on the date of the time change, they get an extra hour, so the District’s Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration requires bar owners to pay a $200 fee to be open for the extra hour.
It’s All About Golf
Because the golf industry has been dropping in popularity for years, people in that industry have seen increased fortunes because of the expansions in the daylight saving period. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons DST has been expanding, since two of the original arguments for the expansion of DST, which are to save energy and to save money, are just not the case any longer.
The Impact on The Flight Prices
Also, the major airlines have reported that DST costs them as much as $147 million per year, so at least a few dollars of the cost of every ticket goes to pay for that loss.
Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time
According to Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time: while many people often use the extra hour of daylight to go to the park or go on a long run, they often get in their cars and drive there. Because of this, he suggests that daylight saving time increases gasoline and fossil fuel consumption.
The Calls to End Daylight Saving Time
A recent spate of polls has suggested that more and more people every year are falling out of love with daylight saving time. Every year now, several states consider laws designed to end the practice altogether. Their arguments are similar. They often note the lack of real energy savings, whereas there is a lower demand for electricity for lighting, for example.
An Extra Hour of Air Conditioning Vs. Darker Mornings
A 2008 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, while fewer lights are on during that extra hour of light, that saving was outweighed by the extra hour of air conditioning use. Other studies have shown that even the lesser need for lighting in the evening was offset by the increased use of lighting in the darker mornings, in any case.
In short, we can expect the calls to end the use of daylight saving time to continue, although its use is so ingrained in modern culture, it is unlikely ever actually to end.