Is Daylight Saving More Trouble Than It's Worth?

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Yesterday, Canada underwent the annual tradition of ‘spring forward’. The daylight’s saving process is still controversial with a lot of people puzzling over what exactly the advantage is. The original idea for daylight savings was to add an extra hour of daylight into the workday. This was meant to benefit workers, in particular farmers, but it seems the change is becoming less and less helpful. Each year, the opposition to this tradition gets louder and larger with people imploring the government to do away with the practice. But is it that daylight savings is simply an unnecessary annoyance, or could it be more harmful than that?

A recent CBC News article looked at the potential negative effects of daylight savings and highlighted some of the points made by those who say it’s time for a change.

While the change was meant to help workers, the work-life has changed considerably since daylight savings was first introduced. Simply having an extra hour of daylight really does little to benefit today’s average worker as many professionals still take their work home with them and work well into the night. The regular 9-to-5 workday is increasingly going out of fashion. So while those who are early-risers adjust more easily to the time change, those who are more likely to burn the midnight oil are found dragging their feet this time every year. This leads to more caffeine, more nodding off at work, and less productive days.

The lack of energy and focus at work can simply be an inconvenience to some, but for others, being sleep-deprived at work can be incredibly dangerous. Experts say that there is a direct link between the time change and the amount of workplace accidents this time of the year. “There is a higher incidence of workplace and occupational accidents, particularly in industries like mining and transportation, for about two to three weeks right around this time,” said Shyam Subramanian, a pulmonologist at Baylor College of Medicine.

Beyond the workplace accidents, daylight savings is also said to be responsible for an increase in automobile accidents this time of year. According to an article from Vox.com, research done at Johns Hopkins University and Stanford looked back on 21 years of fatal car crashes from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to find a link between the two. What they discovered was a “very small, but significant” increase in car deaths in the days following the spring forward.

Where most research has focused, however, is on the negative health effects of the time change. There are several prominent studies that have shown people who are more susceptible to high blood pressure and depression can be at risk during this time. “The most likely explanation to our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythms,” Imre Janszky, lead author of a Swedish study on the subject.

Whether these potential effects are enough to say daylight savings should come to an end is questionable. However, places all over the world, including pockets of Canada, have done away with the practice or never implemented it in the first place. It’s a safe bet to say this experiment will someday come to an end.