As Americans set their clock back an hour early on Sunday morning, some IU professors and students say the practice brings inconvenience and mental health issues and call for its complete removal.
Originally intended to save fuel during World War I, daylight saving time was first implemented by Congress in 1918. Those who proposed the practice thought springing forward and falling back would save energy and create a rhythm where people would rise and set with the sun.
IU economics professor Gerhard Glomm said contrary to these assumptions, initiating daylight saving time ended up wasting more energy. He cited a natural experiment performed in Indiana that tracked energy usage in counties that adopted daylight savings versus those that did not. Results showed energy usage increased for things such as laundry because there was more demand for cooling in the summer and heating in the fall.
Daylight saving time forces people to change their habits and expend energy in new ways.
“It’s really hard to find positive things about daylight savings” Glomm said.
Moreover, Glomm said a week after the clock is pushed forward in the spring, the number of traffic accidents and suicides go up. He said the probable cause is losing an hour of sleep when daylight-saving time kicks in, leading to an increase in anxiety.
“The shock comes in the spring because it’s disrupting your life,” he said.
Fritz Breithaupt, IU professor of Germanic studies and affiliated professor of Cognitive Science, said less sunlight can increase people’s chance of feeling depressed. Likewise, being sleep deprived due to losing an hour of sleep in the spring increases stress and irritation, in turn lowering empathy.
“That little push can push someone over the edge to the moment where there’s been many lost opportunities to feel more friendly for each other and have these moments of small kindness,” he said.
Breithaupt said adopting the fallback time year-round will benefit sleep patterns and improve mental health and empathy levels. This would mean that no adjustments to the time would be made after setting the clock an hour back in the fall.
To some IU students, having to switch their clocks twice a year feels inconvenient. IU sophomore Alex Kurz said she finds it difficult to adjust in the spring when the time is moved an hour forward. On the other hand, in the fall, she feels more relaxed and has more room to settle into a new rhythm.
“It seems like I’m losing an hour of sleep for a week,” Kurz said. “You feel jet-lagged.”
IU freshman Bella Street said she does not see the point to keeping daylight saving time anymore since it has already served its original purpose. She also prefers getting an extra hour of sleep in the fall to losing an hour of sleep in the spring.
“It’s a pain springing back,” Street said. “It’s inconvenient when I have to wake up earlier.”