Sunday, March 8, 2015

Daylight Savings Time - Not Only Ridiculous But Deleterious

Last year at this time I sounded off on the foolishness of Daylight Savings Time, noting DST not only enables much more squandering of energy (as well as adding to the greenhouse effect by enhanced carbon deposition)  but also more obesity for kids- traced to losing sleep hours and eating to compensate. In the first case, the National Assoc. of Convenience Stores (main sellers of gasoline) estimate that one extra month of DST netted them an additional $1b.

So that stat alone makes a mockery of the lame claim that DST impels energy savings.

Now, a new Colorado study shows the effects of DST on our lives are actually deleterious.. Start out with the sleep problems - from losing the initial hour of sleep which tracks forward into the work and school week - to a 25 percent increase in heart attacks, to lower school test scores, and elevated ER visits and traffic accidents associated with the lost hour of time.

On the surface, one wouldn't think a measly hour could make such a profound difference, but it does.  According to National Jewish Health sleep expert Lisa Melzer:

"We have tons of evidence showing even small differences in sleep make a lot of difference in behavior."

Melzer added that "students who suffer even a small amount of sleep deprivation have trouble focusing on their work and research shows them testing below their well-rested grade level."

The worst aspect for students, according to Melzer, is that many Colorado schools tomorrow will begin testing grades three through high school on their mastery of content for state standards. At  the very least, she observed, any assessments ought to be made before the time change.

Another study published in 2012 in Sleep Medicine Reviews gave cause for further alarm. It noted that the presumed ease of adjustment in sleep patterns is wrong - even when we "fall back" in the fall and "gain an hour". The study cited an increased frequency of traffic accidents on account of the failure of sleep adjustment. Thus the sleep "debt" incurred is not magically or suddenly made up for as time goes on.

Meanwhile, heart attacks increased by 25 percent on the Monday following the time change, according to a recent study by University of Colorado cardiology fellow, Dr. Amneet Sandhu.

As I noted before, at least some of these deleterious effects might be tempered if we formally restricted DST to only being applicable between the equinoxes:  spring (Mar. 21) and fall(Sept. 22).  So, instead of having commenced DST today at 2 a.m. the powers-that -be would have waited until the nearest Sunday to the Spring equinox - which would have been March 22nd.  Similarly, DST would end at the Sunday nearest the Autumnal equinox.

This rational adjustment would also lessen the nonsensical early morning  burning of energy (because it's still dark outside), for workers and students, once the days get shorter - as they do for temperate climes near mid-October. 

The net effect of these changes would knock off almost two months of DST at a significant energy savings- as well as sparing the planet from more carbon load in the atmosphere.

Don't look for our lawmakers to go along with it, though. They are more invested in putting more moola in the pockets of businesses that can exploit DST for more wanton consumption.

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