Daylight Saving Time – Early Birds vs. Night Owls

We’ve all heard the popular 17th-century English phrase: “The early bird catches the worm.” But this is not necessarily true for everyone, especially in today’s 24/7 high-tech mobile, digital and virtual Information Age. Therefore, ask yourself whether you’re a so-called “Early Bird” or a “Night Owl”? The answer to this seemingly innocuous question says a lot about your approach to Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA.

⏰ Do you prefer to “fall back” or “spring forward” and why? (please comment below)

If you’re a Night Owl, like me, saving more daylight is of utmost importance.

In fact, there are many practical reasons why more daylight makes good business sense for increasing productivity and benefiting the overall health and well-being of employees. However, the sun will soon set an hour earlier over the next four months — whether you like it or not. In addition to the USA, about 70 countries are reportedly impacted by the loss of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Yes, the end of DST entails some detrimental consequences, including:

  • Wasting more energy,
  • Lost work productivity, and
  • Increased health hazards.

This all reportedly costs the USA alone nearly half a billion dollars annually in productivity losses.

The Flipside

On the flip side, the end of DST is great news for early risers, like my wife (a school teacher). She’s thrilled not only about having gained an extra hour of sleep today – which is no big deal to me – but, more importantly, about not having to wake up and commute to work in the dark. This makes perfect sense from her perspective. Therein stems the dilemma between early birds versus night owls as we fall back and the sun sets earlier. But what makes a later sunset such a valuable commodity for so many folks, like me, who are nocturnal by nature?

There are both personal and practical reasons for extending Daylight Saving Time even more, perhaps to 10 months a year – excluding the middle of winter in December and January – or even making DST permanent.

Consider a few factors:

Energy Efficiency

First, we all consume vast amounts of energy in today’s high-tech and fast-evolving mobile, digital, virtual and electronic Information Age. In an effort to enhance energy efficiency and business cost savings, countless numbers of companies have gone “green” with the advent and growing popularity of solar energy. Therefore, less daylight in the late afternoon means more money spent by employers and consumers alike. To the contrary, many companies and individuals may not care much about energy efficiency and the so-called Green Revolution. Even if you’re not reliant on solar energy, the lights in tens of millions of homes and office buildings will remain on later and longer, causing extra business costs.

To wit: According to the website TimeAndDate:

  • “Pro DST arguments are that more light can counteract blackouts and other electrical failures that can occur later in the day and that it influences people to spend more time out of the house, thus using less lighting and electrical appliances.”

Lost Productivity

Another consequential drawback of losing an hour of sunlight is less productivity for some employees and increased costs for some industries, like tourism. I don’t know about you, but I’ve observed over the years that more workers tend to go home earlier once it becomes dark outside and most tourists tend to curtail their outdoor activities. This might be because our subconscious mind equating darkness with quitting time on the job and being indoors at home.

TimeAndDate also tells us:

  • “The tourist industry welcomes DST, claiming that the extra hour of sunlight makes people stay out later, thus spending more money on activities like festivals, shopping, and concerts.”
  • “The Belfast Telegraph reports that the extra evening light gives Northern Ireland at least £6.34 million a year in extra cash from tourists.”

Bring on the Night

It’s certainly no secret that darkness impairs the vision of drivers, which leads to more vehicular accidents. More folks fall asleep at the wheel, have collisions with other vehicles or objects, and hit innocent pedestrians trying to cross the street or bike home from work, for example.

  • “Studies link DST to reduced road injuries,” reports TimeandDate.
  • “A joint Transport Research Laboratory and University College of London study predicted that fewer people would be killed and injured in road accidents if one hour of daylight was transferred from the morning to the afternoon.”

Other Health Hazards

The medical community — particularly cardiology, psychiatry, and psychology — are well aware that less daylight during the early evening leads to an increased risk of heart attacks, in addition to higher rates of depression and suicide. For instance, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) negatively impacts the health and well-being of millions of people across the globe. Of course, this is remedied to some extent by medication, therapy and the use of light boxes to provide more artificial light. Still, SAD remains problematic as a health concern. To the contrary, more sunlight results in better mental and physical health.

According to UK-based media outlet The Week:

Lighter evenings would have a positive benefit for public health, say researchers.

  • The Week reports: “One study of 23,000 children, published on the BBC, found that their daily activity levels were 15 to 20 percent higher on summer days than winter days and that moving the clocks back causes a five percent drop in physical activity.”

Shelby Harris, an expert on sleep disorders and other medical issues, wrote this in the New York Times regarding changing the clock:

  • “One hour may not seem extreme, but we can’t reset our circadian rhythms as easily as we change the time on the microwave.”
  • “It’s clear that the human body does not readily or easily adapt to jarring changes in the alarm clock.“
  • “We could keep daylight saving time or not, but if health and safety are the deciding factors, we should stop switching back and forth.”

Let the Sun Shine!

The aforementioned factors represent a few things to consider as the sunlight looms later. But what’s most important for YOU? In essence, whether you’re a Night Owl or an Early Bird, everyone appears to give a hoot or chirp about DST.

Where do YOU stand and why?


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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  1. David, I work from home from around 12:00 pm until about 1:00 am or later. My wakeup time varies from 6:00 am – 12 noon. Before we changed the clock I was getting up around noon. Today after first falling asleep around 5:00 am I woke up around noon. In short, I am fine either way but our good “friends” in Washington will decide what is best for THEM.

    • Joel, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I think most people would prefer the clocks not change at all. Congress should just select one time and stick to it nationwide all year. The states can also decide to make their own permanent time changes, like Arizona did, for example. Either way, the clock is always ticking…

    • Thank you, David, for responding to my comment. Some states such as New York where I live have a hard enough time keeping track of time (pardon the pun) let alone making a permanent time change. If the Governor did that invariably there would be lawsuits, protests, and whatnot. As Doris Day said “whatever will be will be” I love your the “clock is always ticking” comment. That was incredibly witty! Stay well!

  2. The summer time is born for reasons of efficiency, according to an industrial and economic logic, to meet the needs of savings. The hour, whether legal or solar, is a cultural convention, does not exist in nature. Like any measurement of time, it is functional to those who use it. The Venusian calendar was fine for the Mayans, the lunar calendar was adopted, among others by the American Indians, most of the Western countries regulate with the Gregorian one, which is an imperfect system as evidenced by the leap year necessary for get back on track. Useful as long as useful.
    According to economists, the real advantage would instead be in terms of consumption: having more light you can do more things, more outdoor activities, more sports, more purchases.
    The debate is especially open between southern and northern states!

    • Aldo: thanks, as always, for taking the time to share your important insights. You provide an astute historical perspective that many people likely fail to consider. I really like your point,

      “Like any measurement of time, it is functional to those who use it.”

      How true!

      I also personally enjoy considering “time” from a cosmic perspective, which can really be enlightening regarding the scope and apparent infinite size of our Universe (which is estimated to be nearly 14 Billion years old) — not to mention concepts of theoretical physics and astrophysics, like time travel, light speed, Black Holes, parallel universes, the multiverse, etc.

      In short, time is relative.