Is Daylight Saving Time Still Necessary? We Don’t Think So, and Here’s Why

Twice a year, Americans set their clocks in one direction or the other. In the spring, we “spring ahead” an hour and lose one hour of sleep. In the fall, we “fall back” an hour and gain that extra hour of sleep back. But is daylight saving time necessary? We took a look at some of the history behind this bi-annual ritual to see if it really makes a difference in our days.

Daylight saving time (DST) hasn’t been around as long as you might think

German soldiers during wwi in the trenches

It only started in 1916. | General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

It seems like DST has been around for centuries. However, it’s actually just barely 100 years old. Some believe that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to suggest it, but regardless, it wasn’t implemented until 1916. The Germans enforced it during World War I to create more daylight to save on fuel. When countries realized what Germany was doing, they soon followed suit.

Next: Very few counties actually practice daylight saving time.

Less than 40% of countries actually practice daylight saving time

Daylight Savings map

Less than half of world still enforces it. | Webexhibits

Today, less than half of the world’s countries still enforce DST. The United States is one of them, along with other countries like the United Kingdom, Brazil, and the European Union. Many countries, like China and Japan, do not practice DST.

Oddly, the state of Arizona also refuses to require their residents to participate. Saskatchewan, a province in Canada, also does not practice DST. Most countries in the Caribbean do not practice it, either, because their days are similar in length throughout the entire year.

Next: This financial hub made DST trendy. 

New York City set the stage for Daylight saving time

Taxi and a Limousine driving along the Brooklyn bridge

New York kept using it. | LSP1982/iStock/Getty Images

Although Germany was the first place to utilize DST, New York City kept using it after World War I. Since New York City is so well known to the rest of the world, other places decided to keep using it as well. DST went from a way to save fuel during the war to a worldwide tradition that continued year after year.

Next: DST does more than just change the sunrise and sunset. 

It can negatively affect your health

Doctor and patient in an office

It can have a surprising impact. | daizuoxin/iStock/Getty Images

Surprisingly, DST can have serious impacts on your health. Experts studied the risk of stroke in adults in the few days following DST and found that the rates were much higher than prior to DST. According to CNN, the overall rate for stroke was 8% higher in those two following days. Cancer patients were 25% more likely to have a stroke during that time, and people over 65 were 20% more likely to suffer a stroke.

Next: Does DST even save energy? 

Experts aren’t actually sure if it saves energy

Blue and orange sunset sky

It’s hard to know if it actually helps. | Dovapi/iStock/Getty Images

When DST was first put to use, it was with the intention of saving energy. However, over the years, experts have realized that there is not much evidence to support that changing the clocks saves energy. Some studies have even shown that DST can cause more energy consumption. Experts said that it’s difficult to get a comparison of DST versus no DST because countries either wholly adopt it or don’t, and every country uses a different amount of energy.

Next: Here’s why DST happens in the middle of the night. 

There’s a reason it occurs at 2 a.m.

10 o'clock Clock Vintage on Wood Table with Sun Light

It’s when it would likely be most convenient. | coffeekai/iStock/Getty Images

DST occurs at 2 a.m. because that is when the government thought it would be the most convenient. If the clock changed at noon, it would mess up everyone’s schedule for the day. If the clock changed at midnight, bars and restaurants might lose one hour of income when they had to spring ahead. The government set it for 2 a.m. because most bars and restaurants are closed at that point. Plus, most people working early shifts would still be asleep. The point was for the time to change to go mostly unnoticed.

Next: DST does have this one awesome benefit (and it’s not more daylight). 

It does have one big benefit: A lower crime rate

handcuffed woman

At least crime drops. | Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Believe it or not, crime rates in the U.S. drop significantly during both of the year’s clock changes. Research has shown that crime rates drop about 7% in the weeks following DST. Robbery rates at sunset decrease about 27% in the following weeks. The overall chance of being robbed is 19% less than prior to DST. When the sun sets earlier or later, it often shifts people’s schedules a bit. Those who used to commit crimes at sunset might now have another obligation one hour earlier or later, depending on the time of year.

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