Daylight-saving time issue will have to wait

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

We’re all glad to see election day today, and only time will tell which way Hunter Biden’s laptop or President Trump’s tweets will sway the results.

Another thing we’re glad to see the end of is daylight saving time -- switching the clocks, that is, not the extra hour of daylight in the afternoon.

President Trump once indicated he might favor the end of the semiannual assault on our circadian rhythm, but that issue somehow got lost in the political discourse, along with Bernie Sander’s proposal to put the U.S. on the metric system.

That’s too bad; today’s vote on the heels of the chronological disruption might have swayed enough votes to the candidate who adopted the stance sleepy voters favor.

Yes, most of us “enjoyed” the extra hour of sleep Sunday, but research indicates the change is only slightly less harmful than the annual “spring forward.”

Adopted to save energy during World War I, daylight saving time was revived during World War II and written into law in the 1966 Uniform Time Act to set a uniform time frame while allowing states and localities to opt out of the practice.

We’ve all heard about the hazards of “springing forward” -- “foggy-mindedness, sluggishness, workplace injuries, car accidents, depression, heart attacks and even ‘cyberloafing,’ or spending time online doing everything but work,” according to Ray Smith of the Wall Street Journal.

While “falling back” is easier on our biological clock, a recent study from Denmark found the change amplifies the depressive effect associated with fewer hours of daylight. The study showed an 8% increase in depression after the fall time change.

And, with the pandemic and divisive election, a little more depression is the last thing Americans need this year.

In addition, Smith writes, the time change can hinder our alertness as we work from home -- twilight at 4 or 5 in the afternoon definitely doesn’t help.

And that original goal, saving energy? There are plenty of studies that indicate the change is ineffective or even caused more energy to be wasted.

Clearly it’s time daylight-saving time to be eliminated, or to made permanent year-round.

What can we do in the meantime?

For one thing, take advantage of what sunlight you can -- see if you can arrange a 30-minute walk after sunrise, and run your errands earlier in the day. That has the added benefit of avoiding the bright lights of a grocery store later in the evening, when your body is getting ready to go to sleep.

Experts also recommend using special lighting at home to help you stay alert while working from home.

No, the daylight-saving time issue isn’t going to play much of a role in today’s election.

But what about 2024?

We can only hope.

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