Other Opinion: End madness of daylight saving time


The thinking back during Benjamin Franklin’s time was that money could be saved on candle wax by centering work hours during daylight. The rationale in World War I, when daylight saving time was first implemented, was similar: save energy by using less fuel for lighting and heat during dark, cold early mornings to free up cash for the war effort.

But whether daylight saving time has ever really saved on energy costs is debatable at best. Even studies saying yes suggest the savings have been minimal. And now, very real health and safety concerns are being tied to the messing around with our sleep patterns twice a year.

So let’s do away with it. Let’s end the daylight saving time madness in Minnesota once and for all.

With our clocks springing ahead once again Saturday night (technically early Sunday morning), legislation is advancing in St. Paul to do just that, to keep Minnesota permanently on advanced standard time rather than bouncing forward and back in spring and fall.

While similar proposals have failed in the past, this one seems poised for passage. Get this: the proposal has bipartisan support, as much a rarity as anyone actually looking forward to the hassle of changing their clocks. There are companion bills in both the Republican-majority Senate and DFL-majority House. Leaders in both chambers reportedly are open to the change. And the Senate bill last week advanced on a voice vote by members of its Committee on Local Government.


"I think the public health and public safety issues that come with these one-hour changes in the fall, that seems to upset people more than anything," Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said in a Forum News Service story last week after bringing her bill.

One health study, by University of British Columbia Professor Emeritus Stanley Coren, a sleep expert, found a 5% to 7% increase in traffic and workplace accident fatalities during the three days following spring daylight saving time, when an hour of sleep is lost. He wrote in 2014 that drowsiness and early-morning darkness were to blame. He also determined that although people gain an hour in the fall, they don’t use it for sleep. And not getting enough sleep not only makes us grumpy, it harms our mental well-being, decreases the ability of our immune system to fight off bacterial and viral infections (which seems kind of important right now, doesn’t it?), and makes it difficult for us to maintain a healthy body mass.

“We live in a society that is chronically sleep-deprived," Coren wrote on his university's website. “Very bad things happen when chronic sleep deprivation is an issue."

Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, and the American Psychological Association all reached similar conclusions when studying the effects of spring-forward clock changes on traffic and workplace accidents.

Additionally, “Losing one hour of afternoon daylight after setting the clocks back to standard time can trigger mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression,” Anne Buckle wrote at, a site devoted to time and time zones. “A Danish study found an 11% increase in depression cases after the time seasonal change. … An Australian study found that male suicide rates increased the days after the spring and fall (daylight saving time) shift.”

It’s no wonder Minnesota is among more than 30 states that right now are considering legislation to follow Arizona and Hawaii in doing away with daylight saving time. The time seems right for consideration at the federal level.

Changing our clocks to better take advantage of daylight may have been something that made good sense back in Benjamin Franklin’s day or during the world wars — but no more.

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