It's that time of year when the leaves change colors, the
temperature turns colder, and the amount of daylight we have each
day gets a lot shorter. Yes, my friends, it's the end of Daylight
Saving Time (DST). We turn our clocks back a full hour this Sunday
(officially at 2 a.m.), and although there is the momentary joy of
gaining an extra hour of weekend sleep, we also lose an hour of
The twice a year changing of the clocks has been debated for
nearly as long as we've been doing it. Originally, DST was
suggested by Benjamin Franklin, in 1784. However, DST was first
implemented in Germany in 1916. The idea was that setting the
clocks an hour ahead in the spring would allow us to make better
use of the natural daylight and conserve energy. But many people
question whether there is any real benefit to DST. In practice,
we've not seen the energy savings that had been expected.
But setting the energy efficiency debate aside, DST has been
associated with public health benefits, such as an increase in
physical activity. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene
and Tropical Medicine and the University of Bristol just this month
released results from a global study suggesting "
that permanent adoption of daylight saving could increase the
amount of physical activity in children." According to the
study, which examined activity levels of 20,000 children between
the ages of 5 and 16 in 9 countries, children's daily activity
levels were 15 to 20 percent higher on days when the sun set later
than 9 p.m. compared to days when the sun set before 5 p.m.
The amount of physical activity one gets is not the only health
and safety issue that has been linked to the changing of the
clocks. In the spring, we set the clocks forward and lose an hour
of sleep. Studies have shown that
the Monday after the switch to DST in the spring is one of the
deadliest days on the road, with an increase in traffic
fatalities of 17 percent.
Meanwhile, a study
published in the New England Journal of Medicine in
2008 found a 25 percent increase in heart attacks on the Monday
following the switch back to DST. Researchers have found no similar
correlation to turning the clocks back an hour in the fall.
So it seems that all of this switching back and forth of the
time is possibly doing more harm than the good originally conceived
of more than 100 years ago. Do you agree that it would be more
beneficial to implement DST all year round? Our health and the
health of the public just may depend on it!