Big mistake, man

I would like to make a complaint, not that it's likely to do any good. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

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Much like sheep, we’re all just sleepwalking into the start of November, ready to make a giant, national, collective mistake.

Yes, that’s right: In 10 days, we abandon daylight savings, and turn back the clocks, making it seem a lot later, earlier.

Why are we still doing this? Especially given:

  • It's all based on a 100-year-old, totally outdated theory.

  • It's bad for us, from a health and economic perspective.

  • And almost everybody basically hates it.

There's a reason. Two, actually. Let's break it all down.

The totally messed up history of Daylight Saving Time

First some history. We've been turning the clocks back and forth, on and off anyway, since 1918.

We started out copying Germany in World War I. Nobody here liked it, so most states gave it up after the war. But then, during World War II, we went back to it a bit to get the whole country synched up, time-wise.

After that, it was every state for itself for decades, until the energy crisis came along in the 1970s, and we were basically willing to try almost anything.

So, the U.S. standardized daylight savings again starting around 1975, on the theory that it would save energy. We’ve tweaked the dates when we start it and stop, but basically we've continued on the same path for 45 years.

Only, we don't save energy...

That's the thing. There's no real energy savings as a result of changing the time (even if there originally might have been some back in the early days of the 20th century).

For one thing, we don't just shut off our lights and go to bed when it gets dark like people did a century ago. And, we use way more air conditioning.

Here's some hard data. The state of Indiana bucked the trend and didn't implement Daylight Saving until 2006. Result? Residential electrical use actually increased 2 to 4 percent according to the National Bureal of Economic Research.

...also, it destroys our health...

Okay, but at least the extra sunlight during the spring and summer months increases health and makes people feel better, right?

Actually, no. The lack of sleep in the spring for an hour has some serious ramifications.

“Car accidents, strokes, and heart attacks spike in the days after the March time change,” as Ben Steverman summarized at Bloomberg.

Granted, some people do get an extra hour of sleep when we turn the clocks back, like next week. But not everyone.

I'm pretty sure that if you're part of one of the 35 percent of U.S. households that has at least one young child, your kids will likely kids wake up as they're biologically used to, at “the new 5:30 a.m.” a week from Sunday. That means, so will you.

...and it hurts our economy.

The history's lousy, it hurts people's health—but at least it boosts the economy right?

There are winners and losers. In normal, non-Covid years, restaurants love the time change in the summer, as do golf courses and sports venues. But overall, it actually hurts the economy more when we switch back in the fall than we gain in the spring.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. found that consumer spending goes up a bit at the start of daylight savings, but it crashes another 3.5 percent in the wrong direction when it ends.

Maybe that's just an argument for keeping the clocks “spring ahead” all year long.

I’d be down for that, and it seems that’s the majority opinion. But, we're not doing it.

So why are we still turning the clocks back?

At this point, we keep this all up mainly due to inertia.

There are some states, Massachusetts for one, that have moved toward full-time, year-round daylight savings.

Technically Massachusetts's idea is to switch full-time to Atlantic Standard Time, which is an hour ahead of New York. It's the same result as staying on Eastern time but never switching the clocks back.

But what's holding them up, along with a few other states, is the desire for uniformity. So, you're either waiting for Congress to act, or for a whole bunch of states to get their act together at once.

Good luck with that. We can’t even get a Covid relief bill through Congress—when both Speaker Pelosi and President Trump, who literally haven’t talked in more than a year, are pushing for it.

So, we’re probably stuck with it. But we don't have to like it.


There are 12 days until the U.S. presidential election. As of last night, 44,007,397 Americans had already cast their ballots. (In 2016, there were a total of 136,669,276 votes cast nationally.) Have you voted yet?


7 other things worth your time

  1. Reports are circling that Quibi, which raised $1.75 billion to create a short-form video platform, is planning to shut down. (Variety)

  2. Attorneys say they can’t locate the parents of 545 immigrant children who were separated from their mothers and fathers during the administration’s “zero tolerance” program in 2017. (NBC News)

  3. Drugmaker Purdue Pharma, the company behind the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin that experts say helped touch off an opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. (AP)

  4. In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue. (Catholic News Agency)

  5. The final presidential debate is tonight. Honestly, I didn’t think this was was going to happen, but here we are. The debate committee says it will mute President Trump’s and former Vice President Biden’s microphones so they can’t interrupt each other as much. (Forbes)

  6. An eight-year-old girl retrieved a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake in Sweden. (BBC)

  7. For the first time in 55 years, free over-the-air TV networks won’t show the Peanuts holiday specials this year. However, Apple TV, which now owns their rights, says it will show “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” for free, for at least a few days each. (First Coast News)

Pretty cool photo arrangement, right? I got it from Leo Reynolds on Flickr. Heaven knows I’ve whined and complained about daylight savings time before on Inc.com. If you liked this post, and you’re not yet a subscriber, what are you waiting for? Please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter, with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers. You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com. And now, you can also get it by text at (718) 866-1753.

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