Daylight Saving Time benefits questioned


On March 9, millions of people in the U.S. participated in an event known as “spring forward,” setting their clocks an hour ahead due to the one-hour shift from standard time to daylight saving time (DST).


For many, the loss of an hour of sleep results in waking up the next day tired and struggling to adjust for the next one to two weeks, as well as having to reset clocks around the house.


“[DST] is the evillest thing invented,” sophomore Robbie Sollie said. “It’s a pain to get up that morning.”


Daylight saving time was originally conceived to conserve energy by reducing the need for lighting at night during World War I by saving fuel. DST was then abolished until the need for it arose again in World War II, where the U.S. government allowed individual states and counties to decide whether or not they would use DST, as well as when it would be implemented in their respective territories.


Needless to say, this policy wrought havoc on interstate transportation and other time-sensitive businesses, prompting Congress to pass the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which made all states, except ones that passed state legislation regarding use of DST, follow a uniform time shift. The date for implementing the time shift has changed several times to the current date of the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.


Ironically, the implementation of DST, meant to conserve energy, actually works against this goal. Matthew Kotchen, a professor of economics at Yale, collected data from over 200,000 residences in Indiana and published the results in his paper “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy?” He found that DST actually resulted in a one-percent increase in residential energy consumption, with greater consumption in the autumn months due to possible increases in activity of high-energy consuming appliances in homes, such as air conditioning and television.


Several states have tried to end DST, but legislators tended to vote against such proposals, citing time discrepancy issues with neighboring states and disruption of time zones. To date, only Arizona and Hawaii are exempt from DST.


In addition to the loss in energy efficiency, many also argue that the loss of an hour of sleep during the time shift in spring poses potential health risks for one to two weeks following the shift.


Lost sleep is known to directly affect areas of cognitive function, decreasing motor function, memory, and contributing to poor mood. These factors can increase the chances of having a traffic accident, being unable to recall particular details, and decreases overall productivity. An estimated loss of $434 million in productivity for 2010 was measured by research firm Chmura Economics and Analysis.


At Bear Creek, the number of tardies rose from 261 on the week of March 3, to 411 on the week of March 10, following the shift from standard time to DST, a 57 percent increase attributable to the disruption of many students’ sleep schedules by the shift.


However, DST does have its benefits. By pushing forward the clock an extra hour, drivers and others on the road can enjoy the benefits of an extra hour of sunlight, resulting in fewer accidents during the duration of DST.


“I think I favor [DST],” senior Khiet Truong said. “It lets me see the road ahead when it’s dark later in the day.”


Other students think otherwise or simply do not care for it much.


“I don’t really care either way, unless I forget to set my clocks,” sophomore Aleksandr La Forge said.