By: Blathnaid Heaney ’19
The morning sky was darker. The evening held the sun for longer. Yet, even while the people were tired with their lost hour, they managed to question if it was necessary.
The almost archaic tradition, known as Daylight Saving Time, was initially proposed by Benjamin Franklin in an effort to maximize the amount of work done in one day (from sunrise to sunset). One common misconception about the reasoning behind the hour change lies in the agricultural industry. The farmers were actually the largest opponents since the hour change would disrupt their day and make them wait longer to harvest or plant crops. The real push for such a change came in the form of the two largest wars in the world’s history: World War I and World War II.
During both wars, leaders found that all efforts should be focused on the war. Due to this, many countries adopted plans to minimize energy expenditure and reduce coal usage by civilians. One such plan was through changing the hour both in winter and in spring. By doing so, it was thought that there would be more time for citizens to work and play outside, making the need for heating during the day unnecessary. The United States was one of 31 countries that adopted Daylight Saving Time during the war effort.
Yet, the goal to minimize energy usage was not entirely achieved. In the 2001 study by the California Energy commission, winter Daylight Saving Time reduced energy usage by 3.4 percent and summer Daylight Saving Time did so by an even smaller reduction. The hour change clearly does not hold the desired effect and almost useless.
Even more surprising is that after the war, the United States government left the decision of continuing the hour change to be determined or even practiced to state legislatures. So for around 20 years, from 1945-1966, many US states never dealt with the tiring effects of the hour change. However, in 1966, when the United States government noticed that states still practiced Daylight Saving Time, it was made into law under the Uniform Time Act.
Regardless of the law, there are resounding groans when people are reminded that the hour change is approaching. The feelings of dread and preemptive sluggishness arise. Though it may have been necessary and helpful during the war, why is it necessary today? We currently have machines and energy sources that are much more efficient. Nevermind the fact that it disrupts the sleeping pattern of much of the working world.
Every year, on that first Monday morning after the hour change, students in all classes are tired and struggling to keep their eyes open. According to Paige Schwartz ‘19, “All I could think about during first Period was that I should be sleeping right now. My mind still feels like it’s one hour back.”
Is it really necessary for our citizens to feel excessively tired when beginning their work week? Would it not be more effective and efficient should the workers and students of our world not lose hours of precious sleep? Why not revoke such a law?