How ditching the biannual time change would improve our country and people’s quality of life

Avery Graham

In about a month, most of the U.S. will observe the end of daylight saving time (DST) and we will “fall back” one hour into standard time.  While sleeping in later may seem appealing, there are many downsides to this practice.  Coming Sunday, November 6, sleep schedules will be thrown off, depression will spike, many people will be driving home from work in the dark, crime rates will go up, and the economy will suffer.  Therefore, not only should the U.S. get rid of time changes, we should abandon standard time and remain in the current DST.


With the sudden change of time, people must adapt to new sleep cycles because of this disruption.  Rest is one of the best ways our body regenerates its energy and consistency is crucial to maintaining a healthy internal clock or cardiac rhythm.  Without this consistency, the sleep-wake cycle that is repeated every 24 hours is now unaligned with the time of day and will need time to adjust.  This will also throw off our sense of time, causing confusion, especially impacting kids who wake up for school.  Getting out of bed becomes more of a challenge and kids will become drowsy at school while they are trying to learn.


As we head into the inevitable, dark winter months, depression increases and it gets worse when we switch to standard time because the sun sets earlier in the day.  When the sun isn’t out long, people may begin to feel less motivated and are exposed to far less vitamin D.  Productivity rates go up when it’s brighter outside, the sun improves one’s health, and people tend to be happier in the light.  Remaining in standard time would also mean we wouldn’t receive as much light during summer evenings either.  Because summer is when seasonal depression typically improves, it wouldn’t have as drastic of an effect if the sun wasn’t out as long.


Continuous DST also prevents car accidents because it is much easier to see and drive when there’s light outside.  While it may be darker in the mornings, nighttime crashes tend to be more fatal.  During evening rush hour, there are more people hurrying to get home, there is a higher chance of kids playing outside, and drunk drivers being present.  People also get more tired as the day goes on, making them a potential hazard on the road.  To reduce the risk of car crashes that lead to injuries and possible death, light becomes an important factor.  A study done by Rutgers researchers has shown that 343 lives per year could be saved by switching to year-round DST.  


Not only is the darkness dangerous because it’s difficult to see what we’re doing, we cannot see what others are doing.  Crime rates increase significantly in the dark, meaning that permanent DST could prevent illegal activity.  During morning and afternoon hours, crime rates decrease by 30 percent and by 7 percent during the shift from standard time to DST.  With less illegal activity taking place, the U.S. becomes a safer place. 


Finally, the economy improves when the sun’s out longer.  People, especially tourists, are far more likely to stay out later and spend money when it’s lighter outside.  This circulates more money into local businesses, thus boosting the economy.  Farmers also prefer a constant clock, meaning that eliminating a biannual change causes farming industries to improve, and in turn, more resources become available.  In addition, energy is saved when DST is utilized because less electricity is used when there is light outside.  People go outside more when the sun’s out, resulting in a smaller amount of energy used.  If we exchanged an hour of light in the evening for an hour in the morning, we wouldn’t be maximizing saved energy because people stay up after sunset, but will sleep past sunrise.  Lastly, reduction in crime results in money saved which also improves the economy.  An estimated $59 million is saved from robberies and approximately $246 million is saved if crimes with estimated dollar amounts are included (such as rape – estimated medical costs, prosecutions, police expenses, etc).


In conclusion, biannual time changes need to be given up and replaced with year-round DST in order to improve health, safety, and the economy.  Therefore, people should advocate for and work to end the hassle of “springing forward” and “falling back” each year.