Many people look forward to the “time change” when Daylight Saving Time comes around each year because it heralds in the promise of spring. The media is full of encouraging information about the benefits derived from Daylight Saving Time. A common fallacy that exists around the benefits of Daylight Saving Time is that farmers are in favor of it because it benefits the farming process by providing extra light at times of the year when it is most available. Unfortunately, someone forgot to enlighten the cows and the chickens. All Daylight Saving Time means to farmers is that they must start their long days that much earlier.
For all the hoopla presented in favor of Daylight Saving Time and the benefits it offers in terms of energy conservation and extended hours of daylight during the evening hours, there are a number of drawbacks to the concept as well. One of the major disadvantages associated with Daylight Saving Time is that it is not mandatory and, therefore, not consistent across the world or even across the United States. Confusion is part of the package when Daylight Saving Time comes around each year.
When certain parts of the country change their clocks in the spring and others do not, electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers may be affected and require manual adjustments to bring them in line with other devices. Flight schedules and transportation timetables can provide confusing information for travelers who may not always be aware they are traveling into an area with different procedures for dealing with Daylight Saving Time.
Even medical devices can be affected by the simple process of changing the clocks. Pacemakers with sleep modes built in, heart rate monitors and glucose monitors must all be adjusted to account for the time change or the individuals using these devices risk disruption in their medical monitors.
As might be expected, Daylight Saving Time can be disruptive to the sleep patterns and internal body clocks of individuals. Common complaints just after the clocks are changed each spring and fall include drowsiness, headaches, insomnia and overall additional stress in sensitive individuals. Mothers of infants and small children often report sleep disturbances in their children who have no idea what the concept of Daylight Saving Time means.
A few studies have shown an increase in heart attacks for a few days after the transition to Daylight Saving Time each spring. The accepted explanation for this strange occurrence seems to be the negative effects of sleep deprivation on individuals until they adjust to the change.
One of the advantages often listed in favor of Daylight Saving Time is also one of the disadvantages that it produces as well. While Daylight Saving Time provides an additional hour of daylight during the evening hours for people to travel home from work or school while it is still light out, it produces an additional hour of darkness in the morning hours. So, while the evening hours may be safer in terms of fewer accidents caused by poor visibility and lower crime statistics because people have more time to travel and run errands in the daylight hours, the morning hours may be less safe for those same areas of concern. Parents worry about the safety of their children waiting for the school bus in the darker morning hours.
Most people believe Daylight Saving Time produces real savings in terms of energy conservation and cost savings. The real concern is weighing out the advantages against the very real disadvantages and confusion that may adversely affect some people.