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Daylight Saving Time Kills

2016.03.14 14:19 PT

Right next to me stands a refilled venti cup of dark roast coffee from Starbucks. I’ve been drinking it since 8:30 this morning, but instead of feeling energized which is what normally happens, I’m tired. When I close my eyes, I want to keep them closed. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, so I’m tired, and when I’m tired I’m not as productive. Thanks to a really stupid idea that’s gone on for too long — daylight saving time — 300 million others in the United States are going through a similar experience, except for the smart governors and their residents in Hawaii and Arizona.

In 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act — a comedian must have named this act! — mandating official dates when daylight saving time starts and ends. Thankfully they weren’t draconian and allowed states to opt out. The reason for the Uniform Time Act was to save energy: you’re up one hour less each night so you’re spending less electricity on lighting, etc. That’s the theory anyway. In real life, the opposite was true in Indiana according to Scientific American: residential electricity use actually increased one percent. The reason? Extra cooling during the summer evenings, and extra heating during the mornings of early spring and late fall. Warm states experience a similar increase. There are other studies with mixed results, but one thing is clear: messing with our clocks is not the most efficient way to save electricity, assuming it does save electricity, which I doubt. But daylight saving time actually has some big negatives.

According to WebMD heart attacks rose five percent during the first week of daylight saving time in Sweden. Cause? Sleep patterns and biological rhythms were disrupted. It’s not just in Sweden. Cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver Dr. Amneet Sandhu led a study that found daylight saving time raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25 percent (Source: Reuters). Here’s another one: University of Michigan Health System interventional cardiologist and associate professor of internal medicine Dr. Hitinder Gurm conducted a study and found there was an increase in heart attacks after people lost an hour of sleep, but also after gaining it back heart attack numbers fell by 21 percent (Source: LiveScience).

An idea that was born from wanting to save electricity is killing people. Google “daylight saving time car accidents” or “daylight saving time productivity” and you’ll find many articles pointing to how daylight saving time does little to save anything. It’s time to save ourselves and kill daylight saving time.