Why Daylight Saving Time Is Pointless

Why Daylight Saving Time Is Pointless

Ugh. You're up an hour early, your body hates you for it, and even a litre of coffee can't get your day on track. Daylight saving sucks. But you know the worst part? It doesn't have to be like this.

Daylight saving isn't as old as you think it is. First suggested by Benjamin Franklin, in 1784, it was at the time shot down by many very sensible people as being pointless. Then, in the First World War, it was introduced -- first by the Germans -- to save coal during war time.

Somehow in that age of austerity, the concept soon caught on and everyone started doing it. Sadly, nobody's really thought to change back. Except Arizona, and it hasn't fallen off the face of the planet as a result.

But oddly, some people still support the use of daylight saving: they say it saves energy, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and reduces traffic accidents. So let's bust the myths right now and make it clear that daylight saving needs to go.

Daylight Saving doesn't save energy...

The Germans introduced daylight saving to lower fuel costs. The idea is that, while changing the clocks reduces the use of artificial lighting in the evening but increases use in the morning, the evening reduction outweighs the morning increase.

Great -- but that was a century ago. Recent studies of power consumption in the US point out that, at best, DST might reduce the electricity usage by 1% during March and April. Other estimates, by the National Bureau of Standards, suggest it has zero effect.

...cut accidents...

Many folks point to the fact that DST reduces the incidence of road traffic accidents as a good reason to keep using the system. In fact, the data surrounding road safety disagree widely. Some studies show that it makes no difference, others suggest a 0.7 per cent reduction in traffic fatalities during DST. When the data's that limited, it's not enough to base a decision on.

...or make us any healthier...

It's true that DST does provide extra daylight in the evening, and that it may bring with it increased physical activity and reduced incidence of depression. But there is plenty of evidence that changing the clocks by an hour can have a detrimental effect on our health.

Clock shifts disrupt our circadian rhythms. Studies have show that, around the times of the spring clock changes, there are spikes in suicide rates and an increase in the number of recorded heart attacks . In fact, when Kazakhstan ditched DST in 2005, it cited health reasons. Sure, it might make you go for an extra jog or two every year, but it might also help contribute to a heart attack. I know which I'd prefer.

...but is incredibly disruptive.

So, none of the arguments for maintaining DST weigh up. I have one, very large, argument to support scrapping it, though: it loses the US billions of dollars every year. It damages retail, affects the stock market in a negative way, and even disrupts agriculture.

A century ago, we didn't have data to tell us whether DST made a real measurable impact; it was acceptable to run with it because, for all we knew, it was useful. Now, we know better. Day light savings sucks -- and we need to get rid of it.

Image: eflon

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    I like daylight savings.
    The days are long enough that it's still light when I get up, and I get an extra hour of daylight after work.

      dito, love daylight savings!

      once again a YANK post ! ARGH!

      But that's the thing, at that time of year the days are longer anyway so regardless of DST it's generally daylight when you get up and when you get home from work (talking about the average 9-5 type job).

        Yep, the "extra hour" is a myth.

          How is it a myth? Finish work an hour later and you'll have an hour less daylight in the evening. Instead of finishing work an hour earlier, we're pretending the time is an hour earlier. Seems like fact to me, not myth.

        What a load of crap. Of course the extra daylight is beneficial. With the extra hour of daylight I can get in a round of golf after work. No chance without DS. Same would apply for many people who do actually get of their butts and do something during the warmer months.

          In summer you have light from about 5am to 7pm without DST (more in some areas). That's plenty of time to get out and do something (even 9 holes) before or after work, a lot of people could even walk or cycle to and from work and still have some daylight left when they get home.

          Last edited 06/10/14 1:23 pm

            You obviously live an indoors life.
            I like being able to get up at 7am, be at work at 8am, work till 4:30Pm Hit the gym for a hour, go home take the dogs for a walk, cook dinner then sit out the back yard around 8pm and have a beer and watch the sun go down.
            Without daylight savings its dark by 8 not 930.
            The more usable hours in the day the better!

              Gym is an indoor activity and there's plenty open from 5:30am so move that to the morning and you'll still watch the sun go down in the evening. I do everything you've mentioned but switch the dog walk for a run and add in cycling to/from work. One of my problems with DST is that after I watch the sun go down and got to bed it's easily 10pm and then there's no way I'll be up at 7am.

                Horses for courses. I HATE mornings so love that i can sleep in and still get plenty of daylight hours.
                and you cant just say get up earlier..my body naturally wants to be later (everyone has a slightly accelerated or decelerated internal clock) and mine wants to stay up late and rise late. while I may be getting up 'an hour earlier' its also more than an hour warmer etc.... its far sunnier and warmer an hour earlier in summer than in winter.

                Last edited 07/10/14 10:51 pm

                  Stay up late and rise late are the people who are completely screwed over by DST, they have to change their body clock the most to make it to work on time. If you want to stick to what your body naturally wants to do then don't change the timezone for several months of the year. I'm also prone to staying up late and getting up late so during DST I either end up sleep deprived or late for work every day.

            Speak for yourself.
            6am to 8pm is far superior for me.

            That is the other point. I don't want sunlight at 5am! As a matter of fact whenever I visit NSW in the summer (I'm from QLD) I am glad I have some sort of daylight after 8PM.

            The sun is up from 5AM in the summer in the QLD. So what? Nothing is open till 6-7. Can't even have a coffee or breakfast. I'm really helped out with that 5AM sunlight.

            However if QLD had daylight saving it would be beneficial for most people and businesses in tourism or hospitality.

              Don't forget the damn birds all chirping happily from 4:30am

                Birds and lights. DST fixes them real good. Only by an hour, but that's all I need.

          It's not an EXTRA hour, it's a shifted hour. You are getting up one hour earlier, getting off work one hour earlier, etc. Anyone who thinks they are getting an extra hour of light needs to go back to fifth grade science class and study how the length of day changes from season to season.

            As many others have pointed out, it's not a magical extra hour of light that didn't exist before, it is shifting an hour of light to a more usable part of the day - i.e. afternoon/night.

            I'm trading my shitty morning hour for a fantastic evening hour to wind down. Perfect!

            You are getting one fewer hour of sunlight when you are asleep, and your eyes are shut, and one more hour of sunlight when you are awake, and your eyes are open. End result - no change in the morning, one hour extra in the evening. So yes, you are gaining an hour of sunlight.

          So why not keep it all year then? I think just leaving DST "On" would be a good compromise between the people who like to pretend they have an active lifestyle and somehow benefit from more light after work (as opposed to before work), and the people who realize it's just a massive fucking inconvenience with no real benefit. At least if you leave it on it will appease people like you, but others like me at least we don't have to change our clocks.

          It's win win.

            That's a horrible argument in itself. Have you ever worked outside? 7am starts on site (as is required in most of the construction industry) are borderline dark in the middle of winter.

            If it were all year round sites would have to start at 8am during winter otherwise you'd be working in the dark for at least half an hour.

              You start at 0700 to maximise use of daylight hours. Maybe you could start at 0800 if its too dark at 0700?

      rybo - the days are exactly the same length as they otherwise would be. Daylights Savings Time didn't change that. It sounds to me like _you're_ not staying at work for as long as you were before and that every work day is a POET day.

      how could anyone NOT like this? do you enjoy leaving work and it being dark by the time you get there? =s

      I hate daylight savings for 2-3 days while I wander around like a zombie, then adjust instantly and love it.

      Who doesn't want to have an extra hour to have a life outside in the fantastic weather after a day stuck inside at work?

      Agreed. The article fails to address the most compelling point. It suits certain people's subjective preferences.

      Frankly I'm more than happy for us to have permanent daylight savings.

    Yeah we don't like it up here in Qld, cos the extra light fades the curtains faster..!

      I'm amazed that we can alter the rotational speed of the planet but still haven't found a cure for the common cold!

      It occurred to me once that daylight savings could lead to the curtains fading faster because it could change when you open and close the curtains, and thus the amount of exposure to daylight they have.
      Then I realised it was a joke.

      Ahhhh you're a Queenslander, so much explained now! ;)

      The extra hour of sunlight is what is causing Global Warming!

    As upset as it make me that daylight savings loses the US billions of dollars every year, I much prefer an extra hour of daylight after work rather than before. It only takes a day or two to adjust so harden up and come to the realisation you can be just as happy with the sun out at night.

      My heart bleeds for the loses felt by US reality TV....
      An extra hour in the arvo after work suits me just fine. More than enough sunlight in the morning when I get to work at 7am.

        Yeah, I can't believe that the article linked to in support of removing DST is showing that fewer people are sitting on their arses watching TV!!! Correct me if I'm wrong here, but surely having people doing things other than mindlessly watching crap TV shows is a good thing?!

        This article is a good example of what happens when people's dumb ideas and rants aren't properly vetted by their bosses.

      It doesn't really give you any extra hours. You still have daylight a little later in summer anyway. But remember: this is Australia, none of this continent is at a high enough latitude to have a significantly altered daylight/night pattern that gave rise to the perceived need for daylight savings in regions in higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere.

      Last edited 06/10/14 12:10 pm

        Fair enough, but I'd personally prefer to have all that extra daylight during the evenings when I'm more likely to be out and about after work. It also gets light far too early without DST!

      Why not just leave DST on all year? Wouldn't that make more sense?

        I'd love to get out of work with some sunlight in winter, but sunrise at 8am in June is probably a bit late.

        I've seen this suggested, just a few weeks ago and quite seriously. Can't remember where, however. Opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, I think.

        Interesting how the article is fairly dismissive of the advantages of DST but the "billions of dollars a year" of losses is supported solely by an article about reduced TV ratings. I would expect reduced TV ratings to imply that people are doing something active instead; about the only thing they could be doing which would be less active would be going to bed.

      Not to mention the fact that that article was focusing specifically on daylight savings actually starting 3 weeks earlier than usual, not daylight savings itself.

      you can be just as happy with the sun out at night
      It is impossible for the sun to be out at night, mate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night

        Actually it's not.
        OED, second definition of "night": "The period between afternoon and bedtime; an evening"
        OED, definition of evening: "The period of time at the end of the day, usually from about 6 p.m. to bedtime"

        Ergo the "nightly news", which does not suddenly become the "afternoon news" when it starts getting dark at a later time in summer. I can think of a few other examples where "tonight" or "last night" does not necessarily require the sun to have set.

          Those definitions actually made me laugh! What if someone's bedtime is midday? The first definition would count 3/4 of a day as "night", including the entire morning.

          You do raise a good point that the definition of "night" is subjective. Maybe ellismedia lives in the Arctic/Antarctic where the sun can be up/down for months.

            True, it allows for some pretty silly examples.

            It's also true that when somebody talks about "last night" or "tonight" they are not always talking about a time when it is dark. In my experience most people talk about a night/evening as starting at a fuzzy time starting at around 6pm.

            On the other hand, if asked "is it night-time?" the general answer is "no" unless it's dark.

            As you say, to some extent it's subjective.

    American article with no mention of the issues here in Australia with daylight savings, what are the cost of having 5 time zones?

    I'm taking today off so my body can get use to the time shift. Actually, i'm taking today off because i just couldn't be f*cked going to work but this will make a good excuse.

      pepee63 - no need to worry, I forwarded this post on to your boss. He'll be waiting for you tomorrow an hour earlier than you expect he will. He's now on employee savings time.

      Yeah, I think the entirety of NSW and SA is with you there... after all, it's a public holiday :D

    Don't have it in WA either, wish we did. I'd argue that the time shift helps our bodies match the circadian rhythm of sunrise and sunset better. When I worked outside I would have loved to start an hour cooler and have one less hour working in the heat of the day, i'm sure i'd have been more productive.

      East coast telco/helpdesk worker here. Getting abused because someone forgot to tell you that your 9am callback was actually for someone in Broome gets old, fast. 7am is still slightly more palatable than 6am was (although I do remember how much fun WA's DST on again/off again shuffle was for Blackberry/BES users at the time!)

      I pretty much wake up with sunrise and go to bed not too long after sunset in the summer.

      Winter kills me, using an alarm to wake up and then in the evening having little sense of time and when I should go to sleep.

      okibi - another WA worker. If we _ever_ (unlikely given 2 referendums) did have DST it would be somewhat unpalatable to have it for the entire period that the East Cost of Aust has it. We really should only have it for the 3 summer months if anything. Getting up and leaving for work and being at work hours before the sun comes up in Mar/Apr wears pretty thin pretty quickly. /2cents

    How in god's name does daylight savings affect agriculture? Plants and animals generally don't give a toss about the clock changing. Plus workers in ag are generally a bit more flexible than workers in other industries.

    Bloody yank articles!!!

    My electricity bill actually does come down in the summer months (unless we use the AC excessively, otherwise normally its the fan). I prefer daylight savings - longer days/sun which means more chance of Vitamin D intake, and just a nicer feeling of being able to go out in the evening with a bit of light.

      just take vitamin D tablets. same same. just don't take too much though, or you'll start to tan.

    When your a journalist that probably doesnt have a 9-5 job it may seem pretty pointless.
    But in colder places, after those very short cold days in winter, it is very much welcomed.

    Last edited 06/10/14 10:46 am

    I love daylight savings because I actually get some time for fun after work.

    An extra hour means the kids stay outside playing in the yard longer. Keeping the parent collective just that little more sane.

      until at the peak of it your trying to get the kids to bed at 8pm and its still bloody light outside. So glad WA got rid of it.
      The days are longer anyway.. why the hell do we need to make it worse.

      Last edited 06/10/14 1:31 pm

        Worst decision ever, still can't figure out why people voted against it. I have yet to hear a reasonable argument for the no team. Bias may, i stress may, play a part in that. Day light saving for the win.

          some valid reasons:

          Beijing is in our timezone and does not observe

          Extra time after work serves no benefit to business or individuals that could not be acheived by negotiating to finish work earlier individually which is actually more beneficial to the employee than dst

          It shifts people to returning home closer to the highest temperatures during the summer so will increase power consumption

          It puts people (esp schoolchildren) out into the weather during higher peak uv exposure times

          It removes the ability to enjoy the cooler early sunshine in summer instead giving us the hot uncomfortable daylight at the end of the day

          It forces people to rapidly shift their sleep pattern twice a year which is linked with higher rates of suicide and heart attack in the days around dst changeover

          Australia is closer to the equator than almost all of Europe (tas is level with Italy), only a few countries at those latitudes have dst (America is basically it) the European countries where dst is implemented all experience a significantly larger shift in day length throughout the year

          Perth is already half an hour ahead of the sun, adding another hour means citizens further east (pilbara, Central South) are pushed even further into the dark

          Finally: as the article states, there are no identifiable benefits of dst, even the original claims for it were proven false. Why go through a problematic upheaval twice a year when there are no clear benefits to implement it.

        Used to live in WA when they last trialled it. Never understood why no one was ever at the beach with that extra hour. Joondalup was one of the best beaches, would almost have it all to myself, loved it.

        What about without DST when the kids get up at 4:30am because its light outside!!!! I'd rather still be asleep at this ungodly hour!

        Last edited 07/10/14 2:57 pm

          My 4 year old is having a hard time adjusting to her bed time as she's effectively going to bed an hour earlier than she usually does now. That doesn't stop her still waking up at the crack of dawn though, unfortunately.

    I live it Tassie, and without daylight savings, over summer it would be daylight at 4:00am. I love DS. After a long crappy cold winter the extra light at the end of the day is awesome. Kids outside longer, happy days.

    Daylight savings was an economical and environmental disaster for WA with regards to electricity usage. Instead of still being at work in the hottest part of the day, people were arriving home and all switching on their aircon ealier. In my opinion we should have it the opposite so we get up an hour later in summer, so we are awake more in the later hours when it is cooler.

    I like not having DST in WA. It depends on lifestyle really. I have no need of extra light in the evening, but I like having it in the morning. Guess most people here aren't morning people ;)

      I'm with you. I don't like daylight savings.

      I'd think that Australia would've caught on that bringing the clocks forward an hour probably isn't the best thing to do in a country that has a high incidence of skin cancer. UV levels are still quite hight 3-4pm Non-DST which is when most people would be leaving work during DST times. Walking, riding, standing outside waiting for buses could all lead to a higher incidence of skin cancer in the population.

      WA, NT and QLD are all probably states that shouldn't have DST for health reasons (it is good that they don't). We should probably be pushing for daylight spendings - start and finish later to avoid the most UV intensive parts of the day.

      More sun in the morning, the better! When we trialed DST I hated it. Getting up early in the morning was just getting bearable with the beautiful early sun - then the clock shifts and back to dark mornings. So I am also glad DST didn't stay. Though its a pain that the time difference to the Eastern States increases by an hour.

        I was up working out at 6am this morning in the dark, was shithouse last week in the full sun. Just as the sun starts getting strong now I know it's 7am and time to finish up.

        Give it another month and it'll be sun at the same time it was last week anyway.

    .... and out come all the nine to five dst fan boys.

    If you're not in a nine to five job, dst sucks donkey bits.
    I start early in my job and as a result i have to go to bed early also. Try going to bed when the sun's still up and it's still above thirty degrees outside (summer in western Australia isn't as temperate as you slackers in the east get).

    And before you preppy hipster types get all Antoinette on me, no, aircon is not always an option (renting anyone?)

    How about we just get office workers And public servants that push for this waste of time to get off their cans and negotiate flexi hours with thier employers instead of forcing all this unpleasantness on the entire population.

    Problem solved.

      awww poor thing, close the bloody curtains and get your beauty sleep princess ;)

      another few hours of sunlight lets you get WAY more done after work, unless you prefer sitting inside and watching tv all night

      Yea, because tradies love working later in the stinking hot heat of the day during summer. They must all be working 9-5 in AC offices too though according to your rant?

    I live in QLD and support our offices in every state. DST sucks. Either shift the whole country or none of it.

      how do you go for the rest of the year with SA, NT, WA? they dont have the same timezone as QLD yet you support them?
      congrats your argument is invalid

        Multiple, different, DSTs means the different timezones change at different times, by different amounts. This is overly complicated.

        Having one DST (or none) would mean all the timezones change by the same amount at the same time. This is simpler than the above.

        griff's argument is valid.

          Seriously, is it that hard to keep track of a time change that happens twice a year?

    Who doesn't like finishing work and having enough day light to enjoy a beer @ the pub in the sun.?!

    OK so as someone who travels a fair bit for work here in Oz I've heard all the arguments for DLS.
    By far the most used is the lifestyle benefits.
    Hmmmm. What a crock. While yes there are those in the population who are do take advantage of that extra hr of sunlight at the end of the day but you are in the minority.
    Lets face it, most people get home from work make food & sit infront of the TV & watch home & away or some other mind rotting drivel.
    This rarely changes from season to season & as it is the most used argument it makes DLS pointless.

      most people? maybe you mate, plenty of us get put after work and enjoy those extra hours of sunlight! the amount of whingers in here is insane!

    I'm sorry, but this is a pathetic and biased article...it literally posted evidence and studies which did support either no change or some positive change due to DST, yet the author concludes that 'none of the arguments add up'...okay then, other than the evidence you yourself have posted which does indicate SOME positive change. SOME positive change is considered by most logical people a good enough reason than maintaining the status quo, or not utilising something (in this case DST).

    Furthermore, the article is so scarce in detail, with awkward statements such as "Sure, it might make you go for an extra jog or two every year, but it might also help contribute to a heart attack. I know which I’d prefer."....In what way whatsoever does moving a clock forward or back one hour cause heart attacks. This is the most baseless nonesensical twat of writing i've seen, I feel more educated had I not read it, now all I have is some biased guys opinionon the matter, great.

    WA has no DST, which is excellent. All the people saying "gives me an extra hour of daylight after work" Why can't you people just wake up earlier and leave the rest of us alone? These days most companies provide flexible working hours so your employers won't complain if you work 8-4 instead of 9-5. As for shift workers, your hours were never normal to begin with, DST changes nothing for you.

    Incidents of sexual assult may also rise due to men having to get up and leave the house earlier.
    As all the morning glories will need to be dealt with outside of the house !! ;-)

      There was a woman in Joh's QLD who rang a radio station and complained her husband will have his morning glory on the bus instead of in bed

    People who disagree with daylight savings surely do not go outside! Even so, with my solar panels I save quite a bit of electricity because I can do the washing and cook dinner at home with free energy. Something that is NOT possible without DST (regardless of longer days).

    What is pointless is why it is not 365 days a year. I'm actually in a better mood with daylight savings. Without it, i finish at 6.00 pm, its dark and pretty much just go home, eat dinner, watch tv and go to bed and do it all over again the next day. With Daylight savings, i finish at 6.00 pm, still plenty of sunshine, so eager to do something like go to the beach, go into town, even call a friend to hang out. After all this at 8-9pm, i go home, eat dinner, watch tv and then go to bed to do it over again the next day but at least i'm in a better mood haha.

    Last edited 07/10/14 4:17 pm

    This is the most one-sided article I have ever seen on gizmodo. I'm disappointed.

      Interestingly enough one of the stupidest articles also resulted I one of the stupidest comment threads I've ever seen on this site. It boggles my mind

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