The clocks turned back once again November 4th as the end of daylight savings times (DST), which began on March 11, came upon us. As we begin to return to our old schedules prior to the initial spring forward in time, we may remember this past DST as the last one the United States experiences as the country debates whether or not to follow such a process year round.
The early concept of daylight savings originated in New Zealand in 1895 from the mind of an entomologist, one who studies insects, named George Hudson who merely wished to have more daylight for “insect hunting.” The concept was forgotten until it resurfaced in the early 1900s when it was presented to the British government as a method of conserving energy. However, the process was not implemented until around 1916 when Germany’s government sought daylight conservation methods in the midst of World War I. Since then, other countries began to use the daylight savings technique, including the United States, which adopted the process in 1918. Countries strived to reduce the constant use of artificial light by using DST, which added an extra hour of daylight in peoples’ schedules. Though the reasoning behind using DST made sense when countries first used it, recent studies have called into question the benefits of the energy-conserving process.
For example, a study conducted in Indiana measured the amount of electricity used per household following the commencement of DST in the area. The results revealed an increasing use of energy as DST continued. Researchers believed this effect occurred from people having to use more air conditioning with the addition of an hour of sunlight in spring and having to use more heating with the elimination of an hour of sunlight in fall.
Studies also found that DST can prove detrimental to one’s health as a result of impacted sleeping schedules. Results have shown that people are more likely to suffer from a heart attack following the beginning or end of DST. This is due, researchers believe, to the alteration in one’s sleeping patterns, which also leads to a five percent spike in the number of car accidents occurring after DST.
On the other hand, a multitude of studies supporting DST show the role it plays in benefiting businesses as well as one’s overall health. As sunlight persists for a longer period of time in springtime, people are more likely to shop in stores, supporting the economy. Also, vehicle-related accident rates have decreased during DST while burglaries have also seen a sharp twenty-seven percent decline due to prolonged sunlight.
Overall, DST has played a prominent role in dictating schedules for half of the year for the last 100 years. Though reducing the use of artificial technology served as its initial purpose, its benefits today are limited, but nonetheless still present. Today, though, the United States currently debates whether they will enforce DST year round in the future, jeopardizing the age-old tradition that current technology has called into question.