Daylight Saving Time (DST) was probably a good idea when it started. But a lot of people now argue that it has outlived its usefulness, a relic of an age of wartime concerns and weak power plants.
But before we dig into that, a brief grammar police diversion:
The term is “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savingS time”. Some even render it as “daylight-saving time,” which hints at the purpose of the practice. Of course, the English language being the living thing that it is, some dictionaries are starting to list the “savingS” spelling. It is certainly in common use. Perhaps the only way to get rid of it is to get rid of DST itself.
Which brings us back to our point.
The original purpose of DST varies depending on where it was adopted. Germany and Austria-Hungary first used it in 1916 to conserve coal during World War I. Various countries have adopted it and dropped it again and again when they reasoned that it was necessary to help their energy consumption needs. The energy crisis of the 1970s saw several countries dust it off again.
In general, most people seem to hate it. Farmers particularly wish it gone. When DST kicks in each year, the “spring forward” stage, it elicits groans from anyone with an alarm clock. When it ends, the “fall back” side, it never quite seems to even things out.
Whether DST has health benefits or drawbacks depends on who you ask. The L.A. Times says it’s bad for you. They quote Yvonne Harrison, a sleep specialist at Liverpool John Moores University:
“The start of daylight saving time in the spring is thought to lead to the relatively inconsequential loss of one hour of sleep on the night of the transition, but data suggest … a cumulative effect of sleep loss, at least across the following week, perhaps longer.”
The state of Arizona is exempt from it entirely due to heat issues. An editorial in the Arizona Republic back in 1968 observed:
“Drive-in theaters, the parents of small children, the bars, the farmers and those who do business with California were against Daylight Saving time while power companies, the evening golfers, the late risers, and the people with business interests on the Eastern seaboard were for it.”
Daylight Saving Time ends this year on Sunday, November 2, at 2:00 a.m. That means you set your clocks back one hour when you go to bed Saturday night, November 1.