Daylight Saving Time: Yay or Nay?

by Caroline Martin          Did you feel tired on Monday, March 9? Or even on Tuesday? The most likely cause: daylight saving time.

This is the period of time when clocks are set forward one hour to optimize the amount of daylight in a day. In spring, the time is set forward by an hour, and in autumn, the time is set back by one hour. It begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November for the United States. 70 different countries participate in daylight saving time, while 125 countries do not.

There is no official inventor of daylight saving time. American inventor Benjamin Franklin may have come up with it. However, others think that George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist and astronomer, could have been the original inventor of this idea.

During World War I, Germany and Austria became the first two countries to use daylight saving time. This was done as a way to conserve energy and other resources during the war. The United States adopted the idea of daylight saving time during World War I, and, after a gap of 25 years, it was implemented again in World War II. Between the end of World War II and the year 1966, there was no federal policy on it. This led to confusion among states, with some participating in daylight saving time, while some did not. The Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966 to set up uniform times for daylight saving time.

AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs conducted a survey in 2019 that showed that 71% of respondents wish to end the practice of changing the clocks twice a year. Of those 71% of people, 40% preferred year-round Standard Time, while 31% preferred year-round daylight saving time.

Controversy surrounds daylight saving time. Some may argue that longer daylight hours help improve traffic safety. An example of this is that drivers will be able to see better, and therefore reduce the risk of accidents. This is because around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., workers are driving back from their jobs. If it is lighter outside, they will be able to see better at that time, which helps them drive safer. 

Another benefit to daylight saving time is that more daylight decreases the risk of robberies. Typically, robberies and other crimes occur when it is darker, so the criminals are harder to detect. However, if there is more light during the day, less robberies will take place.

In addition to these safety improvements, daylight saving time can also help people’s physical health. Many argue that people are more likely to go outside and be active than stay inside and remain sedentary because it is lighter outside. This gives people a more active lifestyle, which will be of value to their overall health.

However, people also believe that daylight saving time is not useful. First of all, some say that even a subtle change in a sleep pattern can have a harmful impact on health. A study conducted by the University of Alabama showed that on the Monday and Tuesday after switching clocks forward one hour, the risk of heart attack increases by 10%.

Lastly, according to LiveScience, daylight saving time does reduce light electricity, but increases the consumption of the electricity used for heating and cooling.

Within the United States, this controversy is evident. Hawaii, Arizona, and the U.S. territories do not observe daylight saving time. Oregon and Washington are two states that have each passed a law to make daylight saving time permanent, but these laws will only go into effect if California does the same. Other states that wish to make daylight saving time permanent include Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

On the other hand, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming have refused to pass these bills.

For over 100 years, daylight saving time has been debated in the U.S. For now, it does not seem like the controversy will be resolved any time soon.


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