Is daylight saving time more bad than good?

CADILLAC — Usually it’s someone’s personal fault when they lose an hour of sleep. However, this weekend people are going to have an extra excuse.

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, clocks will “spring forward‘ one hour. So if you’re awake at that time you can watch the clock jump to 3 a.m. on some devices.

Which is neat, until you realize getting up at 7 a.m. on Monday morning to get ready for work is going to feel like 6 a.m.

The United States established daylight saving time through the Standard Time Act of 1918. Consistency issues in time observance was further clarified by the Uniform Time Act of 1966, according to the Congressional Research Service Daylight Saving Time 2018 Report.

There is some confusion about daylight saving time, how and why it was created.

What is it and what does it mean?

Daylight saving time is a time period between spring and fall when clocks in most parts of the United States are set one hour ahead of standard time.

The time period begins on the second Sunday in March, the “spring forward‘ and ends on the first Sunday in November, or the “fall back‘ according to the Congressional Research Service report.

Many people in the United States think it started with Ben Franklin, but he did not actually suggest the time change, according to the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Franklin’s connection to daylight saving time comes from his 1784 satirical letter to the editor in the Journal de Paris. In it, he proposed that Parisians could save money on candles by waking up before their normal time of noon, the website states.

There’s much more history that goes into the March and November shifts in time we know today.

In 1895 New Zealand entomologist George Hudson came up with the modern concept of daylight saving time. He proposed a two-hour time shift so he’d have more hours of sunshine to go bug hunting in the summer, according to National Geographic.

British builder William Willett independently came up with the idea seven years later while out horseback riding. He proposed it to England’s Parliament as a way to prevent the nation from wasting daylight.

And during World War I, the German government started brainstorming ways to save energy. It remembered Willet’s idea of moving the clock forward and having more daylight during working hours and decided to implement daylight saving, according to National Geographic.

England and almost every other country that fought in World War I followed the example, including the United States.

Coal power was a huge source of energy back then so people really did save energy and contribute to the war effort by changing their clocks.

But that was 100 years ago, is it still prevalent today?

Does it really save money and energy?

Congress has required several agencies to study the effects of changes in daylight savings observance, according to the Congressional Research Service Daylight Saving Time 2018 Report.

In 1974, the Department of Transportation reported that the potential benefits to energy conservation, traffic safety and reductions in violent crime were minimal.

The department did an interim evaluation and said findings were inconclusive, stating that the observed effects were “so small that they could not in general be reliably separated from effects of other changes occurring at the time.‘

The report concluded that “there is no unambiguous direct evidence that (the measurable effects of year-round daylight saving time) were either beneficial or harmful.‘

In 2008, the Department of Energy assessed the potential effects to national energy consumption of an extended daylight saving time and found electricity saving was about 0.5 percent per day or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year.

While this might not sound like a lot, it adds up to electricity savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours, or the amount of electricity used by more than 100,000 households for an entire year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy website.

The Department also reported that electricity savings generally occurred over a three to five-hour period in the evening with small increases in usage during the early morning hours and that savings were slightly greater in March than in November.

On a regional basis, some southern portions of the United States exhibited slightly smaller impacts of daylight saving time on energy savings compared to northern regions, possibly due to small, offsetting increase in household air conditioning usage.

Changes in national traffic volume and motor gasoline consumption for passenger vehicles in 2007 were determined to be statistically insignificant and could not be attributed to daylight saving time, according to the report.

Those who want to keep daylight saving time reportedly argue that the extended daylight in the evening promotes economic activity, including tourism.

Those against keeping daylight saving time argue that losing an hour of daylight in the morning could negatively affect golf course operations, ski resorts and kids’ morning commutes to schools.

Other studies have examined potential health effects associated with the spring and fall daylight saving time transition and found a cumulative effect of sleep loss and increased risk for heart attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Can daylight saving time affect your health?

The hour of sleep lost or gained may play a bigger and more dangerous role in the body’s natural rhythm than we think.

The American College of Cardiology reports that a 2014 study found that heart attacks increased the Monday after clocks sprang forward and decreased the Tuesday after clocks fell back.

The study, Daylight savings time and myocardial infarction, reported that after adjustments for trend and seasonal effects, the Monday following springtime changes was associated with a 24 percent increase in heart attacks.

The Tuesday following fall changes was conversely associated with a 21 percent decrease in heart attacks.

The reason for these problems is thought to be disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Circadian rhythms are daily cycles of numerous hormones and other body functions that prepare us for the expected times for sleeping, eating and activity. Circadian rhythms have difficulty adjusting to an abrupt one hour time change.

The time change might not impact everyone the same way and increase the risk of heart attack, though.

Erin Griffes, director of emergency departments and birthing centers for Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals, said the hospitals have not seen any change in patient volume or patient acuity due to daylight saving time.

If there were to be an impact it would affect the behavioral health population, if any, though it is not significant enough for the hospitals to have ever noticed a trend or impact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says It can take about one week for the body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity.

Until they have adjusted, people can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes.

For the spring time change, the center suggests about three days before the change one can gradually move up the timing of waking up and bedtime, meals and exercise.

People can also get more exposure to light earlier by 15 to 20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time.

About one hour before bedtime, keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers and other devices to help the body move the time earlier that it is ready to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night, it suggests.

Legislators try to change the daylight saving game

A couple of Michigan Representatives have tried introducing legislation to change how the state does daylight saving time.

Michigan State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby, introduced a bill to extend daylight saving time to a full year in March 2017. The bill never made it past Michigan’s House.

Now, State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, is trying to pass her own daylight saving bill.

On Thursday, Hoitenga introduced a bill to eliminate the bi-annual time change in Michigan, according to a press release.

She said she thought the “timing was appropriate.‘

“It’s my job to represent the interests of the people, and the people have expressed their hatred for changing the time back and forth,‘ Hoitenga said. “We should stay in daylight saving time all year and eliminate the burden of acclimating ourselves to a time change twice a year.‘

There’s a big movement to change this outdated ritual and other states are introducing similar bills, she said.

The reason daylight saving time was formed, farming, war, electricity, all those reasons are outdated at this point and we’re living in the 21st century, she said.

She said teachers report the time change negatively affects student performance and workers across the state struggle to make it to work on time after the dreaded “spring forward.‘

There’s the negative health impacts too. It was strange reading the data and research and she was really shocked how much daylight saving time affects us without us realizing it, Hoitenga said.

“The decreased daylight isn’t good for anyone,‘ she said.

House Bill 4303 was referred to the House Commerce and Tourism Committee for consideration.

Although she would like to see this picked up from a congressional level, Hoitenga is hoping her bill makes it farther than Lucido’s did.

“Time change has been a nuisance to workers and students across Michigan for decades,‘ she said. “The practice is antiquated and impractical and it’s time we put an end to it – pun intended.‘ 

Cadillac News