The idea of Daylight Saving has often proved controversial since its first inception in the first half of the 20th century. While some have argued that the system has helped to save energy costs and promoted a healthier lifestyle, others insisted that it is a commercially-driven idea. So who is right? Like all controversial issues, there are always two sides to the story.

Benefits of Daylight Saving

1. It is healthy for you. (It gives you one extra hour of sleep.)

In Stephanie Nano’s Associated Press article “ Turning Back the Clocks Can Help Your Heart," on 30 October, 2008, it said that Swedish researchers discovered, from the records over two decades, that the number of heart attacks dipped on the Monday after clocks were set back an hour, possibly because people got an extra hour of sleep.

2. It gives you an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon.

With that extra one hour of daylight, people could run errands, participate in recreational activities, exercise or do things when the sun is still up. Whether it is leisure entertainment or exercise, this will be beneficial for your physical or mental health.

3. It reduces energy usage.

Similarly, with that extra one hour of daylight, the need for artificial lighting is reduced. It also encourages people to spend more time outside the house, thus making it less likely for them to use household appliances.

4. It helps to boost the local tourist industry.

The extra afternoon light, in effect, lengthens the tourist season. Visitors would be encouraged to stay outdoors longer, enjoy more sight-seeing activities and spend more money. This would have a positive  effect on all tourism-related businesses, such as retail, hospitality and transport.

5. Road safety is improved.

With the extra afternoon light, it is said that people will drive more carefully on the roads, reducing traffic accidents and fatalities. The natural light also puts people in a better state of mind when they are driving, making them more careful and considerate of others.

Changing the clock

Drawbacks of Daylight Saving

1. The implementation of the system is inconsistent, causing confusion to many.

Daylight Saving is not mandatory across the world, or even in the US itself. When some areas choose not to implement Daylight Saving, this often causes confusion to others. Given that many countries in the tropics do not see the need for Daylight Saving (as the length of the day does not fluctuate over the year), it is likely that this system would continue to be used only by countries in the temperate latitudes.

2. It inconveniences people by throwing device and travel schedules into disarray.

Many electronic devices and computers, including some software, would require manual updates for the transition into Daylight Saving Time. People with time-synchronized medical devices have to check with their healthcare providers to ensure that they are correctly updated. International travelers, already trying their best to adjust to the effects of jet-lag after travelling across time zones, will now have an additional factor to consider. Flight schedules and transportation timetables would also need to be adjusted, imposing a financial cost on the transportation industry. Many companies also have to spend money to cope with the transitional effects of Daylight Saving.

3. It complicates people-to-people interactions in the global community.

Given the increasingly integrated nature of the global community and that people in the tropics and other countries do not adopt the Daylight Saving system, people-to-people interactions, whether it is in the business or social context, are unnecessarily complicated by these biannual transitions.   

3. It has a negative impact on rural communities.

Given that the activities of rural communities are closely linked to natural daylight, the imposition of an artificial time is both economically and socially disruptive. For those involved in agriculture or animal husbandry, they have complained that the nature of their work is closely interlinked to natural light and that their livestock are largely affected because the animals find it difficult to adjust to the time changes.

4. It is not healthy for you as it might affect your sleep pattern and body clock.

Some people have complained that Daylight Saving Time adversely affects their natural sleep pattern and body clock, giving them headaches, drowsiness and additional stress. The effects of the transition to Daylight Saving Time often last for many days after the shift.

5. The crime rate in the morning might increase.

Some countries have stopped using the Daylight Saving system out of concern that workers and children, who have to get up when it is still dark to go to work or school respectively, would be put at greater risk of being victims of crime during this period.

So after reading through the list, do you think that the positives of Daylight Saving outweigh the negatives? How can the current system be fine-tuned to reduce its drawbacks?