By Stephanie Haines
People seem polarized on the issue of Daylight Saving Time; you tend to be either for or against it, and have strong reasons for those beliefs.
But I have a proposal in which both sides win; we can all reap the benefits DST has to offer without enduring the detrimental side effects.
The naysayers cite statistics about the increase in traffic collisions, heart attacks and workplace accidents during the week in the spring when we move the clocks forward. They point out that people are often sleep-deprived to begin with, and the spring shift makes this worse, leading to the incidents mentioned above.
They talk about how jarring it is to the body, like jet lag. Our biorhythms are messed up, which adds stress to our bodies, which are often already maxed out by modern life. They mention studies that show energy consumption does not, in fact, decrease during DST months. They discuss the rise in depression in the fall when clocks shift back an hour.
The folks who are gung-ho for DST assert that it has a stimulating effect on the economy, with more people going out to eat or shopping after work. They say it is a deterrent to crime, most of which occurs at night. And they point out that it encourages healthful behavior as individuals, children and families can get outside for evening walks.
The solution is simple: Let’s keep Daylight Saving Time all year ’round. We get to enjoy the wonderful daylight after office hours and all those other accompanying benefits. Yet we lose the disorienting shift and the misery of the long adjustment period to the new time. If we want more light in the evening, we can just collectively agree to start our days later.
This really isn’t as kooky as it sounds; it certainly isn’t any goofier than the idea of DST to begin with (or time zones, for that matter). Our circadian rhythms are already under assault from light pollution, plus the trend toward 24-hour businesses, so we need all the help we can get by not fiddling with clocks twice a year.
After all, the real problem for the anti-DST group is the sudden, dramatic shift. Yes, the body does adapt over time, but the toll taken on one’s physical well-being from having to adjust twice a year isn’t worth the benefit. But if we just shift the time once — then leave it there — we can benefit everyone.
I can see how an argument against leaving the clocks forward an hour would be that winter mornings would come very late. But really, you’re going to be heading to work in the dark anyway — does it make any difference if it gets light when you get there, or an hour after you arrive?
I’d rather it get light on a mid-morning in December if it meant I could still go for a run outside before dinner.
Yes, there will still be fewer hours of daylight at the end and beginning of the year; that’s how seasons work. But having a bit more light in the otherwise long winter evenings would go a long way toward putting a dent into Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If Indiana can change 202 years of history by allowing alcohol sales on Sundays, then we can certainly end our complicated relationship with DST. This is one issue that is easily resolved; everyone should support this practical solution. It is one with everything to gain and nothing to lose, a way to keep everyone happy — and healthy.
Stephanie Haines is a Greenfield native. She can be contacted through her website, www.stephaniehaines.com.