Saving daylight returns no long-term interest


I grew up without daylight savings and I hate it with a passion.  Now, I have found myself deep in daylight savings country, and I cannot understand why people advocate it.  It messes up an already disjointed time-zone system and it upsets human metabolism and circadian rhythms.  The result is a whole community of tired, stressed people not functioning at their normal capacity.

Think about it.  When daylight savings (DST) starts, you suddenly start waking up an hour earlier than your normal routine, despite having gone to bed at the same time as usual the night before.  So from Day 1, you’ve lost an hour that you never quite recover.  Your body will get hungry at its normal meal/snack times, but you have to force-feed yourself an hour earlier because your break-times have changed.  By evening, the clock is telling you it’s dinner time, although it’s still daylight (and an hour earlier) so your body wants to go for a walk, or sit in the garden or something else equally relaxing.  You end up eating dinner at 8 or 9 pm (by the clock), which then means you’re too full to go to bed at the normal time, so you stay up later.  But then you have to get up earlier than normal again the next day…

And so it goes…

There is plenty of research showing how DST disrupts our lives.  Any task or activity we do that suffers from sleep deprivation becomes an issue during DST.  There are multiple scientific studies showing that the onset of DST affects the human body clock, decreasing sleep duration and efficiency and increasing next-day tiredness…and we all know how functional we are when we’re tired.  Some of the greatest man-made disasters of our time, including the Chernobyl meltdown, the Exxon Valdez spill, and the Challenger shuttle explosion, have been attributed to mistakes made as a result of work-shift changes and consequent sleep deprivation.

A North American study found that traffic accidents increased dramatically the Monday immediately after DST started.  Another recent study in Europe found that human circadian rhythms are indeed disrupted under DST, as (surprise, surprise!) people’s bodies have evolved to follow the dawn-dusk sleep cycles.  Other anti-DST evidence abounds, from the fact that the DST-commencement weekend is typically followed by large negative returns on financial market indices, to proof that the incidence of acute myocardial infarction is significantly increased for the few days after DST starts.

So here we go again, tinkering with Nature and suffering the consequences.  DST was created for the sole benefit of the retail and sports and recreation industries, with the idea that people would spend more money on these pursuits with more after-hours daylight.  In reality, the agricultural production, health and entertainment sectors suffer, as do our bodies, minds and societies.  One day we might just wake up to find ourselves asleep at the wheel.

© Manu Saunders 2010