The End of Daylight Savings Time

Mrs. Hodde, Journalism and Yearbook Advisor

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Shorter Days

Days are getting (a little cooler) and shorter – signs that it will soon be time to adjust clocks. It’s Fall, a time of cold nights, changing leaves, and smores around the campfire. It’s also time to set those clocks back and gain an hour of blissful sleep.

Daylight Saving Time started on Sunday, March 11, with people turning their clocks ahead one hour to push more daylight into the afternoon, sort of jump-starting summer.  Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 4. Before going to bed on Nov. 3, most people will move their clocks back an hour, leaving more light in the morning, and the nights will seem longer.

U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa do not observe DST; neither do Hawaii and Arizona. California voters will decide in November if they want to eliminate the time switch and end Daylight Saving Time in the state, and end all this adjusting of time with the sleep deprivation illness, increase in heart attacks and in some severe cases, weeks of cluster headaches.

Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”

That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days.

Daylight Saving Time and Sleep

The focus on gaining or losing an hour of sleep overlooks the bigger picture—the effect of Daylight Saving Time transitions on the sleep cycle. An excellent review in the journal, Sleep Medicine Reviews by Dr. Yvonne Harrison, a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University in England, concludes that a seemingly small one-hour shift in the sleep cycle can affect sleep for up to a week.

In the Fall, only a minority of people get that promised extra hour of sleep. During the following week, many people wake up earlier, have more trouble falling asleep, and are more likely to wake up during the night. People who tend to be so-called short sleepers, logging under 7.5 hours a night, and early risers (also known as larks), have the most trouble adjusting to the new schedule.

Similar problems are seen in the Spring. Again, the adjustment is harder for larks and short sleepers.

Is the concept of Daylight Savings Time an antiquated idea and do we need to abolish its use in the United States as a whole? Or do we suffer on and hope that eventually, we will evolve as a species to need it? You tell me.

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The End of Daylight Savings Time