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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Does Daylight Savings Time Scare the Daylights Out of You?


By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay
In less than 2 weeks, it will be time to set our clocks ahead by one hour.  That's because March 8, 2020 is the start of Daylight Savings Time (DST). I don’t see why they call it that.  It ought to be Daylight Stealing Time is you ask me.  That’s because when you spring forward, what you actually do is steal one precious hour from your weekend. While many argue that you get it back in six months when we North Americans are obligated to fall back,what most citizens fail to appreciate is how much psycho social damage both time-jumps actually cause.

Why do we monkey with our clocks?

Most Americans automatically assume that the rest of the world does as we do.  They’d be wrong.  While most European nations observe what they call European Summer Time (EST), there are notable exceptions, including Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Belarus, and Azerbaijan.  Iceland doesn’t force its citizens to change their clocks.  Neither do any of the African nations.  Namibia used to observe EST until 2017 when the practice was discontinue, as did Egypt in 2015.  In Australia, DST is used in New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory, but not in the rest of the country.  Canada too is a mixed bag, with every province except Saskatchewan observing DST.  In South America, only parts of Paraguay and southern Brazil still observe DST, while no Central American countries do so.  Even in the US there are two exceptions to the rule: Neither Arizona or Hawaii force residents to alter the time on their clocks.

Is time on your side?

Image courtesy PxHere
While many people erroneously think that DST and EST were enacted to save energy used to light hundreds of millions of homes, the practice was actually adopted before electric lighting was widely used.  While Edison patented the electric light bulb in 1879, DST was invented by New Zealand Scientist George Vernon Hudson in 1895.  In a lecture given to the Wellington Philosophical Society, Hudson proposed shifting clocks not one but two hours forward in October and two hours back in March.  While there was some interest in the concept, it wasn’t until 1908 that the first Daylight Saving Bill was brought before the House of Commons in great Britain. It wasn’t until 1916, a year after Hudson’s own death, that the British Isles began observing DST.  Even before that, the concept had been adopted by parts of Canada, including Port Arthur, Ontario (7-1-08), Regina, Saskatchewan (4-23-14), and Winnipeg (4-21-16).  The concept didn’t catch on outside the British sphere of influence until 2016 when Germany embraced Daylight Savings smack in the middle of WWI. France quickly followed suit.  By the end of the war, most of the participants, including the US had switched to DST.  The rub was that many of those same countries opted out of DST after the war had ended, only to opt in again at the start of WWII. While it may have made sense to alter the clocks to give a European populace living under blackout conditions an extra hour of daylight, why they kept the tradition alive after the war’s end boggles the mind.   It has been proven that the concept doesn’t save electricity at all.  It actually increases consumption.   

What a difference an hour makes.

The concept of clock time is a subjective measure that wasn’t embraced by mankind until quite recently.  Before there were clocks, people made do with the ebb and flow of the sun.  While there were such things as sundials and hourglasses to help measure the span of time since antiquity, precise timekeeping wasn’t forced onto the world stage until the latter part of the 19th Century.  With the advent of railroads and steamships, the hodgepodge of local timekeeping wreaked havoc with scheduled arrival and departure times.  As late as 1875, American railroads recognized 75 different local times.  Overseas, the situation was even worse.  It was quickly realized that if there was going to be a system of continental and worldwide transport, a uniform system of timekeeping would need to be created.  The imposition of regimented timekeeping was not only complicated, the populace fought the concept tooth and nail.  In the end, it had to be imposed on the world at large.  This didn’t occur until 1907.  Slowly but surely, the people of Planet Earth adjusted to the imposition of modern timekeeping, only to have a monkey wrench get thrown into the works a few years later when DST was likewise imposed on more than 70 nations.

Image courtesy needpix
While altering our clocks by an hour twice per year seems like much ado about nothing, evidence to the contrary abounds.  Numerous studies have proven that everything from loss of production and safety issues to serious health risks can be attributed to DST.  As reported by CNNHealth, a 2016 study pointed out that:

The overall rate for stroke was 8% higher in the two days after daylight saving time. Cancer victims were 25% more likely to have a stroke during that time, and people older than 65 were 20% more likely to have a stroke. The researchers, based in Finland, compared the rate of stroke in more than 3,000 people hospitalized the week after a daylight saving time shift to the rate of stroke in more than 11,000 people hospitalized two weeks before or after the week of transition. 

In another study, conducted by the University of Alabama, it was determined that the number of heart attacks on the Monday and Tuesday following the time change to DST increased by 10%. A Swedish study cited in a blog published on November 21, 2018 by mercola.com further stated that “your chances of having a heart attack increase in the first three weekdays after the switch to DST.” 

Risky Business

Another risk immediately following the time change are for those using heavy machinery.  Both occupational accidents and car crashes skyrocket during the week following the time change as people’s circadian rhythms are thrown out of whack.  Some physicians after noting an upswing in ER visits following the switch to DST comment that, “It’s like trying to shake off jet lag twice a year in your own hometown.”  Even small alterations in a person’s sleep cycle can affect everything from alertness to mood swings.  If you wish to avoid nodding off or getting grouchy following the switch to DST, make a conscious effort to avoid alcohol or medications that tend to make you sleepy, and don’t ignore warning signs such as yawning or loss of concentration.  It’s always better to pull over to grab a cup of coffee than to nod off behind the wheel.

While we can’t do a lot to fight the deleterious effects caused by springing one hour forward, all we can do is jump on the effects and hope that someday the politicians will decide to reverse a law that does more harm than good.  Only time will tell.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/

2 comments:

  1. Leave it to politicians to find a way to tax your time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hate changing the time back and forth to daylight savings and then to standard time. It take me a couple of weeks each change to make the shift and really throws me off my game. It would be better if they just leaved time alone!

    ReplyDelete

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