Like it or not, on Sunday March 9th, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. the clocks will spring ahead. Daylight Saving Time (DST) comes early this year and for most people, not early enough. But is this good news or bad for your health?
This Sunday the clocks will spring forward to Daylight Savings Time once again. For those in the north, the days of afternoon sunsets and dinner in the dark will finally come to an end. For those in the South, it means being able to get outside to enjoy an after dinner walk or a trip to the park, while the sun is still out. No matter where you live, the arrival of daylight saving time means that spring is just around the corner.
But is this good news or bad for your health? According to experts, so long as you rebound successfully from losing that single hour right at the start, the resulting increase in daylight hours over the next few months is good news for your personal outlook. Of course, recovering from that one-hour disruption is made easier by the fact that it begins early on a Sunday morning, a day off for many of us. For many, sleeping in an extra hour on a Sunday morning is no hardship at all.
Why Have Daylight Savings Time?
The basic theory is that we are more productive and active in the afternoon and evening hours than we are in the wee hours of the morning. Farmers can harvest and plant later in the day and folks can indulge in more outdoor recreational activities, so why waste all that valuable light sleeping. Many people also believe that we save energy during daylight saving time. This is likely not true. We may turn on a few less lamps, but with the sun setting later, those air-conditioning units run a little longer, thus canceling out any energy savings.
Daylight Savings Time and People Affected with SAD
Anywhere between 60-90% of the population has at some time experienced SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The majority of those affected are women. SAD occurs in certain people when they do not receive enough sunlight. The condition is characterized by depression, fatigue, and a loss of interest in normal activities. It is believed to be caused by fluctuations in both melatonin and serotonin levels in the brain as well as a vitamin D deficiency.
With the onset of daylight savings time, the majority of people affected by SAD should start to feel better. It does not take a lot of extra sunlight to reduce the effects of this disorder, and simply by changing the clock and offering more light in the evening, sufferers feel noticeably better. So, with so many people prone to seasonal depression caused by lack of sunlight, why is DST not utilized year round? Certain politicians believe it should.
Proposed Legislature Regarding Year Round Daylight Savings Time
Two democratic legislators in Florida have filed a bill called the “Sunshine Protection Act” that is asking to instate daylight saving time year round. Proponents of this bill believe that year round DST will promote health and wellbeing by making leisure activity more welcoming in the evening; that it will decrease traffic accidents and decrease crime. Other states are sitting up, taking notice, and considering their own legislation to make daylight saving time permanent.
In Idaho, Rep. Mike Moyle has introduced a bill into the house that would see his state joining Arizona and Hawaii, and not participating in daylight saving time at all. His supporters are opponents of DST and believe that changing the clocks back and forth twice a year is disruptive to both industry and family life.