Daylight Savings Time, But Why?

By: Devin Fussa

Last Sunday, November 6, most of America turned their clocks back by a whole hour. We do so twice a year, but few of us ask for the reasoning behind such an action. Why do we constantly change our own perception of time? There is an answer, but it may not provide much clarity.

The concept of daylight savings time (DST) was first proposed in the 1700s. It was created as a way to provide more light while people were awake, as opposed to darkness during the mornings and afternoons. In the fall and winter, the sun sets earlier. In the spring and summer, the sun rises earlier. To counteract this altered frame of sunlight, it seemed a good idea to rotate our time accordingly. Eventually, this became a popular tradition; it has lasted ever since.

It is commonly perceived that daylight savings was imposed as a benefit to farmers. “That’s the complete inverse of what’s true,” says Tufts University professor Michael Downing of the subject. Instead, daylight savings often leaves farmers with minimal time to transport their crops. Losing an extra morning hour during the spring and summer season means that farmers must hurry to reach local markets. Although this scenario is only a boon for smaller scale farmers, the problem still exists. For this reason, many farmers were originally against daylight savings time.

Surprisingly, daylight savings time isn’t a positive for people’s health. It does not let us conserve energy, but instead disrupts our internal sleep schedule. A 2009 study of mine workers found a 5.7 percent increase in injuries in the week after the start of DST. It was suggested that these incidents were directly related to the altered sleep cycles of the workers. Although not entirely conclusive in relating daylight savings to motor issues, DST has also been noted to cause headaches and changes in the cardiac process. There are no outstanding reasons to continue daylights savings time with regards to human health.

As it would seem, daylight savings time is fairly irrelevant. It disrupts our sleep patterns and provides little gain to the American population. While it is enjoyable to sleep an extra hour once every two seasons, it’s also bothersome to awake an hour early six months after. A dated idea, daylight savings time simply attempts to fool one’s body, but to detrimental effect. So… why does it still exist? We have no idea.