A federal standard for daylight saving time (DST) was established in the United States in the 1960s, but the idea of changing the clocks twice a year has long been controversial. Proponents argue that permanent daylight saving time — or "no more falling back every year in the fall," as CNN explains — would be significantly better for the country and for people's health. Opponents argue just the opposite. Who is right?
Pro: Permanent DST can lower energy bills
Some studies have shown that permanent DST can help cut down on energy costs. This is partly due to the sun setting one hour later in the evenings, which means the "need to use electricity for household lighting and appliances is reduced," The Columbus Dispatch argues. This data seems to be backed up by a study from the U.S. Energy Department, which found that four extended weeks of DST could save an extra 0.5 percent in total electricity per day. However, this may come with a caveat, Maya Wei-Haas writes for National Geographic: "The later sunlight hours do often reduce electricity use during this time, but they also spur more intense use of air conditioning in the evening or greater energy demands to light up the dark mornings."
Con: Potential health problems
A study from Northwestern Medicine suggests DST is "linked to increased risk of developing certain disorders, from cognitive and mental health issues to digestive and heart diseases. And, if you already have these conditions, DST can make them worse." These concerns are corroborated by Natalie Pompilo, who writes for Brain & Life Magazine that "even slight misalignments between the body clock and the social clock can have serious health consequences." Neurologist Dr. Beth Ann Malow from Vanderbilt University adds that "the misalignment of our natural circadian rhythms can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease."
Pro: A reduction in crimes
For obvious reasons, many criminals prefer to commit their crimes at night. However, if DST were permanent, "moving sunlight into the evening hours [would have] a far greater impact on crime prevention than it does in the morning," writes Steve. P Calandrillo for the University of Washington Magazine. He adds that "crime rates are lower by 30 percent in the morning-to-afternoon hours, even when those morning hours occur before sunrise, when it's still dark," meaning the extra hour of sunshine could cause a significant reduction in crime. This is backed up by a study from Jennifer L. Doleac and Nicholas J. Sanders with the Brookings Institute, who write, "Offenders know they're more likely to be recognized and get caught if they're fully visible," and the additional sunlight would help to deter petty criminals.
Con: Sleep disruptions
Despite the fact that many people enjoy the additional sunshine, "permanent daylight saving time doesn't align with our natural circadian rhythms," Dr. Shelby Harris writes for USA Today. Harris adds that while longer days may be appealing, "Our sleep schedules are guided by the Earth's light and dark cycle." If people were to shift to consistently darker mornings, Harris says, "Our sleep schedules would get thrown severely out of whack — a long-term issue with long-term implications." Danielle Pachecho, a staff writer at the Sleep Foundation, argues that "DST can cause sleep problems if circadian rhythms are not aligned with natural cycles of light and darkness," and that it can lead to insomnia for many people. "Circadian misalignment can contribute to sleep loss, as well as 'sleep debt,' which refers to the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis," Pachecho adds.
Pro: More time spent outside
For some parents, the additional brightness at the end of the day can mean more outdoor activity for their children. Ashley Jones, a lifestyle writer at Romper, writes that "more sunlight later in the day means I can literally wear my kids out ahead of their 8 p.m. bedtime with outdoor activity." As a result, Jones argues, this could help children wind down and give parents a break at the end of the day, adding that "the extra time outside with my kids also gives me a mental reset after working all day." Camille Squares writes for Quartz that children naturally play outside longer during evening light. She cites a study from New Zealand that found the number of trampoline accidents even increase during the summer months as a result of increased time outside.
Con: A drop in workplace productivity
Investor and entrepreneur John Rampton writes for Entrepreneur that DST has "sucked the life out of productivity." This was backed by Dr. Ilene M. Rosen, professor of clinical medicine and program director for the Sleep Medicine Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, who told MSNBC that employers "are recognizing the costs of poor sleep in their employees," largely contributed to by DST. Rosen adds that there is "a strong U-shaped relationship between absenteeism and presenteeism [on-the-job-work loss] and hours of sleep." Basically, she argues that people should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night to be most productive, something that doesn't happen as a result of DST.