Daylight Saving Time has been arriving earlier and earlier over the last ten years or so. As a result, its arrival over the weekend may have come as a rude awakening for those who use their mobile phones as alarm clocks—and even more this morning. And the start date is just going to keep creeping forward, as next year the clocks will change another day earlier—on March 8. But are there any benefits to changing our clocks? That’s certainly up for debate.
Daylight Saving Time focused on energy
The practice of changing the clocks in the U.S. first emerged during World War II in some states and then was signed into law for the whole country in 1966. Then in 2005, then-President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act into law. That act covered energy policies and tax credits, and the trend of offering tax credits as incentives for energy policies began.
Thanks to that act, taxpayers were able to receive tax credits for buying fuel efficient vehicles or installing solar systems in their homes. They also received tax incentives for other making other energy efficient improvements to their homes.
But energy savings remain up for debate
The goal was saving energy because making the working day include more daylight hours was supposed to be true. Forbes contributor Kelly Phillips Erb believes that we aren’t necessarily saving energy by extending daylight hours. She notes that studies suggest there’s just a slight change in demand for energy at night during Daily Savings Time. Others suggest that any savings at night are offset by more demand for energy at night. Geographical location makes a difference too, as any energy savings noted in cooler parts of the country were offset by increased demand for air conditioning in warmer clients.
We may even be losing money on Daylight Saving Time, according to William Shughart II, an economist at Utah State University. He believes that changing the clocks two times a year costs U.S. residents $1.7 billion in lost opportunities. To come up with that number, he assumed that everyone over the age of 18 spends about 10 minutes changing clocks instead of being productive.
Daylight saving time causes sleep deprivation
The 2013 Rasmussen poll indicated that just 37% of Americans see benefits from changing their clocks, which is down from 45% in the year before. And now, a new study suggests that there are health costs associated with changing our clocks.
A number of studies, including one from the American Journal of Cardiology, indicates that losing an hour of sleep increases Americans’ stress levels and offers less time to recover for those who happen to be sick when Daylight Saving Time rolls around. In addition, Americans tend to be crankier and feel sleep deprived for up to two weeks after the time change
Also General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) conducted a study which found that sleep deprivation can be just as destructive to our driving ability as a .08 blood alcohol level. The study assumed five hours a night of sleep deprivation and / or one night without any sleep at all. Of course that’s still a far cry from losing just a single hour of sleep, but it demonstrates how important getting the proper amount of sleep is for driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tired drivers cause over 100,000 car accidents each year, which means drivers must be extra careful when Daylight Savings Time arrives.