Making the very most of Daylight Savings Time

Although substantial time has elapsed since Daylight Savings Time’s cruel robbery of our extra hour of sleep

By Stuart Fullarton

Eckville Echo

Although substantial time has elapsed since Daylight Savings Time’s cruel robbery of our extra hour of sleep, I, like many people, am still feeling the effects of its absence.

Its relocation is, perhaps, a better way to describe it, however, as the time we’ve lost in in the morning has simply been gained at night.

And at this time of year, after living through one of the coldest, darkest, snowiest winters in recent memory, such a move is most welcome.

While losing that extra hour is tough on even the chirpiest of morning people, I have to say I think it’s well worth it to see days extended to include sunlight beyond 5 p.m.

In brainstorming and researching for my column this week, I took to the internet to find out whether people shared that sentiment, and what I found was a largely mixed reaction ranging from people who don’t even really notice any physical or mental disruption during the change, to those who blame everyone and everything for its seemingly pointless nature.

Something I found more interesting, however, was a CBC article that described studies that have linked Daylight Savings Time with effects slightly more significant than simply feeling tired and annoyed.

In the article, dated Mar. 8, 2013, the reporter cited a University of British Columbia release in which sleep expert Stanley Coren spoke of the link between Daylight Savings Time and an increase in motor vehicle collisions.

“Spring daylight savings time is a period when people lose a little extra time. Looking at different types of accidents, we found a five to seven per cent increase in accident fatalities during the three days following spring daylight savings time.”

Possibly a coincidence, the statistic is scary, nonetheless.

And it reminds us to be aware of the potential dangers posed by operating with the seemingly minimal one hour loss of sleep.

But it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to Daylight Savings Time.

Steve Calandrillo of the University of Washington’s school of law argues that its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages, going as far as stating that “DST saves lives”.

Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, he said: “Simply put, darkness kills”, noting his feelings that having year-round Daylight Savings Time would actually reduce the number of motor vehicle collisions that occur.

Citing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, he noted that “the change from daylight to twilight causes a 300 per cent increase in fatal pedestrian crashes alone. Having this change occur one hour later saves lives because fewer motorists are on the road then.”

It’s clear that certain activities that require our full mental attention, such as driving, should not be carried out until our body clocks have fully adjusted.

Not knowing how far that sentiment extends, and to which activities it all applies, however, is the real problem.

And only when we know that can we determine whether Daylight Savings Time is simply a necessary nuisance or a valorous lifesaver.

Stuart Fullarton is the editor of the Eckville Echo and also reports for Sylvan Lake News.