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.
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:
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.”
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?