Why I like DST

I know I’ve said some of this before, but if bloggers didn’t repeat themselves where would their content come from?

I like Daylight Saving Time, and the advantages it brings more than make up for the slight disruption in my schedule. In fact, the most annoying thing to me about the DST changeovers is hearing people complain about them. The “lost hour of sleep” is especially rich. Who are these hothouse flowers who always get exactly the same amount of sleep except for that terrible day in March? To hear them talk, you’d think they never stay up late watching a movie or reading a book. Only prisoners have such regimented lives.

I am sympathetic to parents with small children, because their changing sleep patterns can mess up your day. That problem, though, is worse when we change back to Standard Time in the fall. On what my wife calls The Day That Never Ends, the kids get up according to their internal clock but insist on going to bed according to the clock on the wall. Still, that lasts only a day or two. (Special note to Jason Kottke: If your kids take two weeks to adjust to the change, you’re doing something wrong.)

So what’s good about DST? Go to this page run by the US Naval Observatory, enter where you live, and look at an entire year’s worth of sunrise and sunset time given in Standard Time. Here’s what I get for Chicago:

             o  ,    o  ,                                  CHICAGO, ILLINOIS                           Astronomical Applications Dept.
Location: W087 41, N41 51                          Rise and Set for the Sun for 2013                   U. S. Naval Observatory        
                                                                                                       Washington, DC  20392-5420     
                                                         Central Standard Time                                                        


       Jan.       Feb.       Mar.       Apr.       May        June       July       Aug.       Sept.      Oct.       Nov.       Dec.  
Day Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set
     h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m
01  0718 1631  0703 1706  0625 1741  0533 1816  0447 1850  0418 1919  0420 1929  0445 1909  0517 1824  0548 1732  0623 1645  0659 1621
02  0718 1632  0702 1708  0624 1743  0531 1818  0445 1851  0418 1920  0420 1929  0446 1907  0518 1822  0549 1730  0625 1643  0700 1620
03  0718 1633  0701 1709  0622 1744  0530 1819  0444 1852  0417 1921  0421 1929  0447 1906  0519 1820  0550 1729  0626 1642  0701 1620
04  0718 1634  0700 1710  0620 1745  0528 1820  0443 1853  0417 1922  0421 1929  0448 1905  0520 1819  0551 1727  0627 1641  0702 1620
05  0718 1634  0659 1711  0619 1746  0526 1821  0442 1854  0417 1922  0422 1929  0449 1904  0521 1817  0552 1725  0628 1640  0703 1620
06  0718 1635  0657 1713  0617 1747  0525 1822  0440 1855  0416 1923  0423 1928  0450 1903  0522 1815  0553 1723  0630 1639  0704 1620
07  0718 1636  0656 1714  0616 1748  0523 1823  0439 1856  0416 1924  0423 1928  0451 1901  0523 1814  0554 1722  0631 1638  0705 1620
08  0718 1638  0655 1715  0614 1750  0521 1824  0438 1857  0416 1924  0424 1928  0452 1900  0524 1812  0556 1720  0632 1637  0706 1620
09  0718 1639  0654 1717  0612 1751  0520 1825  0437 1858  0416 1925  0425 1927  0453 1859  0525 1810  0557 1718  0633 1635  0707 1620
10  0718 1640  0653 1718  0611 1752  0518 1826  0436 1859  0415 1925  0425 1927  0454 1857  0526 1808  0558 1717  0634 1634  0708 1620
11  0717 1641  0651 1719  0609 1753  0516 1828  0435 1900  0415 1926  0426 1926  0455 1856  0527 1807  0559 1715  0636 1633  0708 1620
12  0717 1642  0650 1720  0607 1754  0515 1829  0434 1901  0415 1926  0427 1926  0456 1855  0528 1805  0600 1714  0637 1632  0709 1620
13  0717 1643  0649 1722  0606 1755  0513 1830  0432 1902  0415 1927  0428 1925  0457 1853  0529 1803  0601 1712  0638 1632  0710 1620
14  0716 1644  0647 1723  0604 1756  0512 1831  0431 1903  0415 1927  0428 1925  0458 1852  0530 1801  0602 1710  0639 1631  0711 1620
15  0716 1645  0646 1724  0602 1758  0510 1832  0430 1904  0415 1928  0429 1924  0459 1850  0531 1800  0603 1709  0641 1630  0711 1621
16  0715 1646  0645 1725  0600 1759  0509 1833  0429 1905  0415 1928  0430 1923  0500 1849  0532 1758  0604 1707  0642 1629  0712 1621
17  0715 1648  0643 1727  0559 1800  0507 1834  0429 1906  0415 1928  0431 1923  0501 1847  0533 1756  0606 1706  0643 1628  0713 1621
18  0714 1649  0642 1728  0557 1801  0505 1835  0428 1907  0415 1929  0432 1922  0502 1846  0534 1754  0607 1704  0644 1627  0713 1622
19  0714 1650  0640 1729  0555 1802  0504 1836  0427 1908  0415 1929  0433 1921  0503 1844  0535 1753  0608 1703  0645 1627  0714 1622
20  0713 1651  0639 1730  0554 1803  0502 1837  0426 1909  0416 1929  0433 1920  0504 1843  0536 1751  0609 1701  0647 1626  0714 1622
21  0712 1652  0637 1732  0552 1804  0501 1839  0425 1910  0416 1929  0434 1919  0505 1841  0537 1749  0610 1700  0648 1625  0715 1623
22  0712 1654  0636 1733  0550 1805  0459 1840  0424 1911  0416 1929  0435 1919  0506 1840  0538 1747  0611 1658  0649 1625  0715 1624
23  0711 1655  0635 1734  0549 1807  0458 1841  0423 1912  0416 1930  0436 1918  0507 1838  0539 1746  0613 1657  0650 1624  0716 1624
24  0710 1656  0633 1735  0547 1808  0456 1842  0423 1913  0417 1930  0437 1917  0508 1837  0540 1744  0614 1655  0651 1623  0716 1625
25  0709 1657  0631 1737  0545 1809  0455 1843  0422 1914  0417 1930  0438 1916  0510 1835  0542 1742  0615 1654  0652 1623  0717 1625
26  0708 1659  0630 1738  0543 1810  0454 1844  0421 1915  0417 1930  0439 1915  0511 1834  0543 1741  0616 1653  0654 1622  0717 1626
27  0708 1700  0628 1739  0542 1811  0452 1845  0421 1915  0418 1930  0440 1914  0512 1832  0544 1739  0617 1651  0655 1622  0717 1627
28  0707 1701  0627 1740  0540 1812  0451 1846  0420 1916  0418 1930  0441 1913  0513 1830  0545 1737  0619 1650  0656 1622  0718 1627
29  0706 1702             0538 1813  0449 1847  0420 1917  0419 1930  0442 1912  0514 1829  0546 1735  0620 1649  0657 1621  0718 1628
30  0705 1704             0537 1814  0448 1848  0419 1918  0419 1930  0443 1911  0515 1827  0547 1734  0621 1647  0658 1621  0718 1629
31  0704 1705             0535 1815             0419 1919             0444 1910  0516 1825             0622 1646             0718 1630

                                             Add one hour for daylight time, if and when in use.

Sorry about the need to scroll horizontally; that’s just how the results are formatted.

If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May through the middle of July. And if you check the times for civil twilight, which is when it’s bright enough to see without artificial light, you’ll find that that starts half an hour earlier.

This is insane and a complete waste of sunlight. Good for a nation of farmers, I suppose, but of no value to anyone in our current urban/suburban society except those people who get up and go running before work. And I see no reason to encourage them.

DST haters often point out “studies that prove” that the DST changeover costs us billions of dollars in lost productivity. There are three problems with these studies:

If, by the way, you think the solution is to stay on DST throughout the year, I can only tell you that we tried that back in the 70s and it didn’t turn out well. Sunrise here in Chicago was after 8:00 am, which put school children out on the street at bus stops before dawn in the dead of winter.1 It was the same on the East Coast. Nobody liked that.

People complain about the complications DST causes in scheduling, especially in our connected world where international phone calls have to be arranged between people in countries whose time changes occur at different points in the calendar. This is a real problem, but only because our vaunted technology has let us down.

The set of rules for calendars, time zones, and clock changes is exactly the sort of thing computers should be good at handling for us, but because of programmer arrogance and incompetence, we end up with problems that shouldn’t exist. In the past few years we’ve had Zunes that wouldn’t boot, Playstations that wouldn’t play, and iPhone alarms that wouldn’t alarm (again and again and again).

Because the rules are already in place, programmers only have to learn what they are and implement them. This is where the incompetence and arrogance come in. Programmers don’t bother to learn the rules and think they can be tossed off in a few lines of code. We end up with devices that promise to keep us on track but are less reliable than a paper calendar and a windup alarm clock.

So instead of signing a stupid petition, agitate for better programmers. And then go have a nice walk after dinner tomorrow; it’ll still be light out.


  1. And if you’re wondering why I’m not accounting for predawn light in this case, it’s because winter skies tend to be more overcast and don’t provide as much twilight as summer skies do. 


68 Responses to “Why I like DST”

  1. Carl says:

    1. I strongly disagree with you on this issue.

    2. I strongly suspect you are going to have to lock comments on this page before too long.

    Anyway, I don’t see why we need to screw up clocks to wake up an hour earlier or later in different parts of the year.

    “School hours: M–F 8:30am–3:30pm (9:30am–4:30pm Nov.–Mar.)”

    There, done. Get the TV stations to agree to move their programs off by an hour too (not that it matters anymore in the age of Netflix), and we’ll have all the good of DST with none of the bad.

  2. Carl says:

    You know what I’m starting to think? Time zones were a premature optimization. In the olden days, it would be very difficult to make a time table for a train if each city has its own time system. Nowadays, all that junk can be figured out automatically by computers. And if people in two different towns need to coordinate a meeting, they can just use UTC. I say lets abolish DST and let every smartphone tell time based on its GPS as well!

  3. Dr. Drang says:

    You don’t go far enough, Carl. All businesses should have their hours determined by the number of hours before and after the local noon. With the tremendously reliable software we have now, opening and closing times could be changed on a daily basis, not just twice a year.

    Even better, we could go back to a system with twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, with the length of the hour changing every day. Analemmas for everyone!

  4. Shelby Munsch says:

    “Only prisoners have such regimented lives.”

    Or students.

  5. Rob G says:

    @Shelly

    Really? I thought students led the least regimented life of any adult, unless you mean primary/secondary students, who have enough energy to survive DST.

    I agree with Drang; the better nighttime and daytime hours improve life in Ottawa immensely.

  6. Nadyne Richmond says:

    If we’re going to discuss arrogance, let’s discuss the arrogance of assuming that you know that developers are incompetent when you clearly have no idea about the complexity of DST. Even the Wikipedia article touches on some of the complicating factors, and it doesn’t even begin to scratch the service. If it’s so easy, why is it that there are so many problems with the time change? Occam’s Razor tells us that it’s not as simple as you make it out to be.

    It’s not just that there’s some “set of rules for calendars, time zones, and clock changes”. Anyone who’s actually worked on an application that’s impacted by the time change knows that there is no “set of rules” for all countries on the planet (or all states/provinces/territories/whatever within those countries). For example, for those primarily Muslim countries that do observe DST, several of them stop observing DST during Ramadan. The dates of Ramadan aren’t fixed, and as of this writing, the 2013 date hasn’t even been determined. (The primarily-Muslim countries that don’t observe DST usually cite Ramadan as a major reason in doing so.)

    Further, it’s not just technology. There’s actual humans involved in all of this, even when our technology does take care of updating the clocks for us. Those of us who work with international teams (or have friends/family overseas) get used to a rule of thumb for when we can communicate with them. That rule of thumb gets broken twice per year, for a few weeks each time, when people accidentally book meetings outside of working hours (or simply didn’t reschedule a recurring meeting that is now outside of working hours for a few weeks) because they forgot about the difference in time changes between their location and yours.

    I am amused that you dismiss arguments about the impact of DST on children for those who dislike DST, but then use an argument about children having to wait at bus stops in the dark in your argument to keep it.

  7. Carl says:

    Even better, we could go back to a system with twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, with the length of the hour changing every day. Analemmas for everyone!

    You laugh, but I was thinking about that too! Why not? It wouldn’t be the most radical rearrangement of the time system.

    What’s the point of having a time system? Why did the ancient world invent clocks? So they could force people to work for certain hours of the day and coordinate when certain activities will happen. Well, if we still have the second defined as N vibrations of a Cesium atom, we can still measure durations accurately, and if we still have UTC, we can still coordinate activity across the world.

  8. Lukas says:

    I sometimes have problems falling asleep. As a result, I have a pretty tight sleeping schedule. My phone actually reminds me to go to bed at a specific time. Obviously, I can ignore it from time to time. If I do, I go back to the schedule the next day. That’s very different from completely changing the schedule by an hour twice a year.

    Also, studies show that schools should start later than 8am anyway. http://www.cehd.umn.edu/research/highlights/Sleep/

  9. Allen MacKenzie says:

    Reluctant to chime in, as I see that things are already getting heated. It’s partly rhetoric, people—leave aside the personal attacks.

    A couple of years ago I was firmly in the “DST is stupid and we should end it” camp. And Dr. Drang convinced me (on Twitter and his previous blog post) that it did have some practical value. Now I’m more on the fence. I still think the “saves energy” argument is stupid, but doing an adjustment to put daylight at rational hours makes some sense to me. That being said, I am living abroad this year, and the (lack of) international coordination is a pain.

    But I mostly wanted to respond to two things:

    People complain about the complications DST causes in scheduling, especially in our connected world where international phone calls have to be arranged between people in countries whose time changes occur at different points in the calendar. This is a real problem, but only because our vaunted technology has let us down.

    Calendar on Mac OS X handles this fine, in theory. If you enter an appointment in a particular time zone, then it does the conversion. I have a bunch of recurring meetings. Whether they moved this weekend or not depends on which time zone I used to enter them. (Ireland changes to “Summer Time” on March 31.) But no one thinks about this when they enter an appointment in their calendar. And even if you were to try, there are too many dependencies. I wound up leaving some meetings unchanged for my colleagues in the US, but others had to change on the US side because of hard constraints here. It is difficult to see how to solve this problem with software.

    Because the rules are already in place, programmers only have to learn what they are and implement them.

    Not really true. The rules in the U.S. most recently changed in 2007. We have a car with GPS that supposedly changes to DST automatically, but we had to turn that feature off because it is programmed to the old changeover dates, with no mechanism for a software update. The rules are still in flux, it would seem…

  10. TesTeq says:

    I’m not against DST. I’m against a stupid idea of resetting clocks twice a year. Make DST permanent - just like Russians did. It’s not about waking up early - it’s about stupid time manipulation.

    We all should use one global universal time (London, Chicago or Timbuktu - it does not matter). I can wake up at 4am or 1pm or 8pm - it does not change anything.

  11. PAUL S says:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/eliminate-bi-annual-time-change-caused-daylight-savings-time/ShChxpKh

  12. Watts says:

    TesTeq hit my thought, which I’ve certainly had before. Since this isn’t a nation of farmers anymore, biasing the sunlight hours toward the evening year-round makes perfect sense to me.

  13. Jasker says:

    I live up at 56 degrees north, here in Edinburgh. For historical reasons like most of the western world, we use DST too (playing by EU rules, not US ones). Using the good Doctor’s aforelinked tabulator, I see our UTC sunset stretches beyond 9 o’clock in summer; which BST then makes 10 “at night”. Add civil twilight and there’s little time a sun averse Drang might get to sleep here, as the birds twitter loudly from 3 in the morning, in any case, in the subsequent gloaming of the bright night. No wonder our northern cousins in St. Petersburg call midsummer the “white nights”. Nautical twilight never ends so there’s scarcely any stars.

    And then in winter, kids are herded into school in near complete darkness and barely leave it again before the sun’s back down once more, well before 4 o’clock. High latitudes seem to ask for more than merely one hour of adjustment throughout the year, or to abandon the approach entirely. As indeed Russia has.

    As for morning runners: a similarly minded outdoorsman was DST’s leading proponent in Britain, for the greater convenience of his beloved summer golf.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time#History

    Lastly: software.

    Remember the iPhone mute switch kerfuffle? I was reminded of it by the latest Ihnatko Almanac. The problem addressed by that switch is one of user intent. When is mute really mute? Apple made an assumption, which turns out not to be true for newly equipped iPhone users in attendance of symphonic orchestras led by haughty and irascible conductors who will in fact stop the entire performance unless all phones are silent, and said user is too new to realise he even has an alarm on his iPhone, which was placed there by his secretary and so great awkwardness ensues. Pity. Andy likes the Android way, were the user can install his own system extension or whatever they call it, and fiddle away. Great if the user is a nerd who finds the process entertaining, but untrue for normals.

    In short: there are problems no amount of intelligent code alone can fix. Appointments arranged across time domains (by people with better things to do than learn about the worldwide regimes in use) are one of them.

  14. Carl says:

    We have a car with GPS that supposedly changes to DST automatically, but we had to turn that feature off because it is programmed to the old changeover dates, with no mechanism for a software update.

    I have an alarm clock that sets itself according to some radio signal and auto-adjust to DST… except that I live in Hawaii, one of the few sane, DST-less states in the US. Which means that twice a year I have to manually fix the time on my self-time setting alarm clock. :-/

  15. Dr. Drang says:

    Nadyne,
    I’m not sure why you interpret “the set of rules” as “the set of rules for one country that also apply to every other country.” That certainly wasn’t my intent. If you reread the passage that has you upset, you’ll see that my complaint was with programmers who oversimplify time and date rules.

    As for Ramadan, the problem isn’t one of complexity, it’s of impossibility. When a date is set by proclamation rather than by algorithm, then, by definition, no algorithm can predict it. My father used to say impossible problems take the least effort because you shouldn’t even try.

    As for incompetence, you should follow the links to the examples I gave. Those errors are not the result of complexity.

    Allen,
    I admire the hubris, if not the intelligence, of the makers of your GPS. Permanently programming in dates that can be changed at the whim of both federal and state governments takes guts. My intent was to limit my complaint to devices that are network-connected and can adjust to these changes. I should have included that caveat.

    (Does your GPS get updated with new maps? Maybe its programmers expected to make algorithm changes during those updates.)

    Jasper,
    I don’t know what can be done for people who live practically in the Arctic Circle. I’m surprised, though, to hear you mention sunlight at 10 pm; from what I’ve heard, Scotland sees constant rain, and the sun is just “that spot where the clouds are a bit brighter.”

    PAUL S,
    First, stop shouting. Second, a comment that’s nothing more than a link to a page that’s already linked to in the original post is generally considered worthless. Normally, I’d take pity and delete it, but I’m feeling feisty this morning, so I’m going to leave it up. It’s the blogging equivalent of sticking your head on a pike outside my castle walls.

  16. Jasker says:

    That’s just whingeing: our one true national past time. Slap a couple of rainy days together and suddenly everyone’s united in grumbling about how “awfy dreich” the season is. By the time it really has been pouring down for a week, it’s usually August and we have the reassuring sight of the surge of tourists in town for the Edinburgh Festival; getting drenched. There’s nothing more Edinburghian than consoling visitors that it’s always as bad as this. It’s not. We’re just evil for holding it a month after it should be.

    Our weather’s sort of like yours in the Midwest, only less extreme in winter (down here in the Lowlands) and more predictably dank, when we get a bit New England instead. It’s no coincidence Scots settled in that corner of the Americas a little more willingly than somewhere as sunny as we say we want, like Jamaica.

  17. Dave says:

    “Only prisoners have such regimented lives.”

    Or parents.

  18. Gustav says:

    Wait, you claim DST time complainers who complain about lost hours are wrong because they don’t keep a strict sleeping schedule anyway, but yet you want to keep it because you can’t bring yourself to get up early?

    Then you claim the productivity studies are BS, but in your argument you stake a lost productivity claim on getting up early. Ever stop to think that maybe people might go to bed earlier to compensate?

    You also never seemed to have heard of blinds for your bedroom window.

    And since when is our productivity tied to daylight anyway? Make your own schedule that works for you.

  19. Gabe says:

    I love your diatribes because they bring out the stupidest smart people around in the comments. It’s amazing how they can draw some of the most harebrained conclusions by slicing and dicing the text in ways other than how they were composed. Also, they apparently do not follow links or read the entire article.

  20. Jasker says:

    @Gabe

    Newspaper editors have always known that the headline is enough. (And when the article doesn’t quite reach the conclusions you want it to: let the headline say otherwise!) Plenty of people just read the headlines, then “skim” the prose; if that. Doesn’t matter a jot what was in fact said, their conclusions are already in place.

    @Gustav

    The whole point of clock time is to coordinate events with other people. Like showing up at work. So there are consequences to fiddling the hour, as long as people agree to bide by it. I hear this is not such an issue on the Pacific coast, however.

  21. Alexis says:

    The standardisation of the changeover times was actually going quite nicely (last weekend in March/October for most of Europe), and then for some reason, the Yanks decided to move AWAY from these dates so that we now have an additional 6 weeks of confusion during the year.

    The further you are from the equator, the more it makes sense to have DST for the reasons described in the article.

  22. Jemal says:

    All I get from this is that you don’t want to invest in better curtains, so the rest of us should screw up our schedules twice a year. How about we take a collection, buy you some better curtains, and move on with our new, more-rested lives? I’m in for $5.

  23. Doodpants says:

    Didn’t we fix this this problem back in the ’90s when we all switched to Swatch Internet Time?

    Even better, we could go back to a system with twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night, with the length of the hour changing every day. Analemmas for everyone!

    I’m not knowledgeable enough about how time works to understand the connection, but if the alternative is hourly anal enemas, I’ll stick with DST thankyouverymuch.

  24. Lukas says:

    Ah, just remembered something else: software DST switches aren’t just an issue of “smart programmers”. There’s the very real problem that one particular hour occurs twice in a row every year, while another one is missing.

    This can cause all kinds of unintended side-effects, like running certain jobs twice in a day when they should only run once, or not at all because they were scheduled to run during the hour that didn’t exist.

    This is something all programmers have to consider at all times. If you’re writing banking software, for example, making a mistake can have real monetary effects (e.g. you don’t want to charge people twice because something occurred during that double-hour).

    If you’re writing hospital software, it’s even worse. For example, you don’t want to automatically give people injections twice, or forget to give one. This stuff has real-world consequences. Just complaining about stupid programmers won’t help the person who got screwed up because somebody made a mistake.

  25. Joshua Miller says:

    I agree. Our notion of a subdivided day and the clock itself is a human construct to serve us. We should always implement whatever changes that make our arbitrary designs as productive and self-serving as possible. Having sunrise at 4:15 am is preposterous. Move the time.

  26. Alex de Soto says:

    A friend of mine recently quoted this old Native American quip on the subject: “Who else but a white man would cut a foot off one end of a blanket and stitch it to the other side and believe he’d made it longer.”

  27. Nadyne Richmond says:

    @Drang - I’m not sure why you’re presuming that I’m upset, but then I’m still unclear as to why you presume that errors caused by the complexity (and ever-moving target) of DST are the cause of arrogance and incompetence. I also didn’t interpret your statement about a “set of rules” as being a set of rules for a single country; sets of rules can be complex and cover a lot of ground (in this case, “a lot of ground” is “the whole planet”). And that’s the point: the set of rules regarding DST is complex. At some point during the year, there is guaranteed to be a change in date of DST somewhere in the world, and the news of that change doesn’t always filter back to every single software developer who will need to update their code because some tinpot dictator decided to change the date of DST in their country, or because you didn’t know when a country which does observe DST would stop observing DST in the middle (and not even trying to handle DST correctly for those countries is not an option). Given the complexity of DST, it’s fertile ground for mistakes. Blaming those mistakes on arrogant and incompetent developers when you clearly don’t understand the complexities of dealing with this in your code every single year is at least as arrogant as the arrogance that you ascribe to developers at companies as diverse as your examples of Sony, Apple, and Microsoft.

  28. Fred Fifield says:

    Here in Phoenix, AZ we don’t change our clocks. The sun rises at 5:20 am at it’s earliest in late June and 7:32 am at it’s latest in mid-January. In the summer the sun sets as late at 7:41 pm in early July and as early as 5:18 in mid-December.

    I lived in California last year and I was surprised at the shock to my system that came with the time changes. The spring change was a little easier to deal with than the fall one. I remember being surprised at the number of accidents during rush-hour as the well-lit ride home was now completed in darkness.

    Personally, I’m glad I live in a place without the time change. Life feels better this way.

  29. Andy Bates says:

    Alex: It’s not about making the blanket longer; it’s about making the blanket more effective. If the blanket slowly slides up each night until it’s covering my face but my feet are cold, then cutting off the top foot and attaching it to the bottom is the perfect solution.

  30. Naman says:

    It’s much simpler to know that summer means longer days than to keep track of this DST bullshit. Oh no, we like some stupid number to wake up. We don’t care about anything else. It’s winter and we want to wake up late. But instead of just waking up late, we’ll also change the time on the clock to make up feel like we’re not waking up late. How stupid.

  31. Adam Elman says:

    Most of what I would have to say has already been said (notably by Nadyne), but I’ll add one thought:

    8am sunrise in December sounds fine to me. Dangerous for school kids? Start school later. For everybody else, this sounds like a good compromise to me. Make DST permanent, end the switchover, one less problem to solve.

  32. unhinged says:

    How resistant we humans are to change!

    As I read this article I was struck by the author’s argument that DST should apply because he didn’t want to get up earlier at certain times of the year. However, on going back and checking the time variations between sunrise according to the chart I can see why certain other commenters have noted that when far from the equator the use of DST makes sense - certainly a 3-hour difference is larger than a one-hour difference.

    For me, it’s the compression of the change into a single evening that hits me hardest, not the change itself. If we were to follow the natural rhythms of the seasons, then according to the above chart the maximum rate of change for the author is 52 minutes in one month - which is still substantial but nowhere near as confronting as 60 minutes in one night. There are natural therapy techniques that can (apparently) assist with handling the shock of the change, but to insist that it’s entirely due to fitness may be a bit misleading.

    As we move to a world where our technology assists us in leading lives of our own choosing (working the hours we want, with compromises that let us participate effectively in teams however they may be geographically located), I see fewer and fewer reasons for the clumsy adjustment that is DST and would much prefer to return to patterns that we as a species have evolved to deal with over millennia.

    Regimentation has its benefits, but as my mother always told me: too much of any one thing is bad for you. :)

  33. Brade says:

    DST actually kills people, so I disagree with you entirely:

    http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-daylight-saving-time-health-dangers-20130311,0,2861449.story

  34. fiberlicious says:

    Sing it!

  35. Chris says:

    Interesting to see the US debate on this issue. Here in the UK we have our own ‘dialogue’ regarding British Summer Time and the arguments run on largely the same lines. For us it is a clear split north and south - Scotland (where I live) generally benefits from BST for all the reasons that have been mentioned in comments above due to distance from the equator. South England? Well, they just like something to complain about ;)

  36. Dan Hawk says:

    Petition signed.

  37. Andy Bates says:

    Brade, yes, there is a slight uptick in risk of heart attacks when moving to DST. However, there is a corresponding downtick in risk of heart attacks when moving back to standard time. And we generally don’t get rid of everything that kills people, unless the benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks. Considering that the slight increase in accidents can be attributed to getting an hour less of sleep, maybe we should also ban New Year’s Eve parties, late television programs, great video games, caffeine…all things which can lead people to stay up later than normal and get less sleep.

  38. Orv says:

    Count me as on the fence, although I do wish the government would quit mucking with the start and stop dates. (The change in 2007 meant reprogramming roughly 5000 VCRs, for me.)

    It’s worth noting that, for historical reasons, many parts of the US have time zones that are completely messed up. Houghton, MI is on EST, in spite of being west of Chicago; in January the sun doesn’t come up until 8:40 am. I went to college there, and let me tell you, it’s very hard to convince yourself to get up at 6:30 am for a 7:30 lab when you know that it’s -15F outside and won’t be light for another two hours. The reason for this, apparently, is that when copper mining was big in the area, the companies that ran the mines wanted them on the same schedule as the eat coast financial markets.

    It just goes to show you that all timekeeping is political, and the people it’s designed to benefit are the ones with lots of cash in the game.

  39. Bill says:

    If the whole world had the same time zone, how would I know whether it was too late/early to call my friend in Austria?

    As for changing the school schedule, how is that easier than changing the time? Parents still have to get to work after they drop off the kids—should we change work/shift hours too? Again, easier to change the time.

    Time zones are supposedly adjusted according to the rotation of the earth. Can’t change that.

  40. Andrew says:

    Much of the technical problem comes from failing to distinguish between “true time” and “local time”. My biggest DST problems came from forum software that (for some idiot reason) was configured to run on local time. As such, and living in the southern hemisphere, I was forced to process each DST changeover twice, once when my local DST kicked in and a second time when the host’s DST kicked out (or vice versa in 6 months).

    I find the easiest solution for consumer gear is to run the back-end clock in “true time” with local offset and provide the consumer with a simple button to engage and disengage DST.

  41. Carrie#K says:

    No, Daylight Saving Time is EVIL and contributes to Global Warming by adding an additional hour of sunshine every evening.

    I may or may not stand behind that final statement.

  42. Gary McGill says:

    I’m surprised, though, to hear you mention sunlight at 10 pm; from what I’ve heard, Scotland sees constant rain, and the sun is just “that spot where the clouds are a bit brighter.”

    Far off-topic now, but your readers might appreciate the Flanders & Swann version of the “Song of the weather” nursery rhyme (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eT40eV7OiI), with its wonderfully pithy (and usually accurate) description of July:

    In July, the sun is hot. Is it shining? No, it’s not.

  43. Kishor Guttu says:

    People suggesting radical changes should note that this is a country that has not yet shifted to the metric system.

  44. Vicky says:

    The trick isn’t so much the Daylight Savings as when it’s changed each way. If you get it right, you should be wanting it to change. NZ played around in the 00s with moving around the time of switch—too early in spring and it’s getting up in pitch black, leave moving back too late and the same thing.

  45. Vicky says:

    Oh, and as someone who lives just south of Scotland (and used to sleep with the curtains open year round in NZ as we’re far closer to the equator), I hate waking up in the middle of summer for it to be daylight at 4am. The thought of that 4am being 3am makes me shudder. (Conversely, winter is just horrible but there’s not much I can do about that aside from get a UV lamp).

  46. Dr. Drang says:

    Nadyne,
    I didn’t presume you were upset, I inferred it from your first comment. That inference was strengthened by your second comment.

    And although this is definitely the right room for an argument, you must understand that an argument is an intellectual process. Ignoring the reasoning of the other party and repeating yourself goes nowhere in establishing a proposition. I’m sorry, but your five minutes is up.

  47. Clark says:

    Now that I have young school aged children I hate DST. However when I lived in Canada and it got dark rather early in the evening it made a lot of sense.

    However honestly the big issue is less DST than it is different places with different rules. UK changes on a different date than the US and then there’s Arizona. Knowing when a business somewhere is open is kind of a losing proposition at times. That’s hardly DST’s fault. It’s more a scheduling issue.

    But then I lived next to Newfoundland who had a time zone exactly on half hour off of ours.

  48. Geoff says:

    As someone who grew up in Indiana (before DST) and lived in Arizona - moved on to spend 10 years in the lower latitudes of California - and has spent the last 10 years in Canada…

    You can take my DST when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    Anything that gives us the chance to better enjoy the 3 months of decent weather that we get, if only for one hour a day, is worth every single minor hassle that might come with it.

  49. Dan Poltawski says:

    I recently moved from the UK (with DST) to Perth, Australia (no DST) and I completely agree with every point! Sunlight in the mornings is painful, I’d much rather have an extra hour of sun after work.

  50. Jon H says:

    Another way of extending your daylight is to live at the western edge of a time zone.

    For example: Sunset today in Connecticut was at 6:55. Sunset in Cincinnati was at 7:42.

    It people in each place wake at the same time in the morning, then those in Cincinnati will have more sunlight in the evening.

    Sunrise times are similarly shifted, so if you’re more of a morning person, you probably want to be on the eastern edge of a time zone, to get the earliest sunrise.

  51. Joel says:

    Surely the best solution to the whole DST thing is to get rid of all timezones. Everyone on UTC and be done with it.

    Then everyone and every location can work out hours of operation as they please.

    Right?

    PS: I’m a major advocate of DST for the reasons outlined above. The current anti-DST crowd should be as supportive of the above recommendation as they are of opposing DST.

  52. Mark Jaquith says:

    If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May through the middle of July

    This is insane and a complete waste of sunlight.

    What’s insane is deciding that sunlight is the most important factor in determining waking hours, and then ignoring that factor because a little box on your your nightstand is displaying a number that you don’t find aesthetically pleasing in relationship to how bright it is.

    DST is a poor solution to the problem of variable spans of daylight. Even with DST, places have seasonal hours, and stores are open at different times in different geographical areas. It’s not just a granularity problem, because it isn’t an issue of daylight simply being shifted. The amount of daylight increases and decreases. So shifts that “fix” things in the morning will screw them up in the evening, and vice versa. We can’t win. We still, with DST, have the issue where sometimes 19:30 is sunny and sometimes it is dark. If it fixed the problem, I might be more tolerant. But it doesn’t fix the problem. The problem is, self evidently, unsolvable.

    We can’t optimize around whether or not certain hours feel like they should be dark hours or feel like they should be light hours, and by trying we both fail at giving a predictable hour-to-amount-of-sunlight relationship, and introduce a bunch of stupid, unpredictable, politically- and religiously-motivated complexity that has real world costs.

  53. nick s says:

    The road safety issue as it relates to children seems pretty clear-cut: the school day begins more or less around the same time as the standard office day, but ends earlier, so it should be a higher priority to have light(er) mornings in those latitudes where it’s a choice between the two, because there are more cars on the road.

  54. renstein says:

    I spent most of my life in Saskatchewan, where we don’t switch times at all. I enjoy that. I have disliked living in places that do switch time. The technology is here now, let’s make all clocks local, so that the sun sets at 9 pm every day of the year. The computers and clocks can automatically adjust. That way, there is always lots of sunlight in the evening.

  55. Jasker says:

    You know, Anal Emma’s reputation is, in most respects, wholly undeserved.

  56. jirwin says:

    “If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the >Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May >through the middle of July. And if you check the times for civil twilight, >which is when it’s bright enough to see without artificial light, you’ll find >that that starts half an hour earlier.”

    Go look up the same table for Anchorage, Alaska. That is what sunrise is WITH daylight savings.

    “If, by the way, you think the solution is to stay on DST throughout the >year, I can only tell you that we tried that back in the 70s and it didn’t >turn out well. Sunrise here in Chicago was after 8:00 am, which put >school children out on the street at bus stops before dawn in the dead of >winter.1 It was the same on the East Coast. Nobody liked that.”

    Again, go look up Anchorage, Alaska. It is dark when kids go to school and leave school in the winter.

    My point is, life goes on, people deal with it and most of your reasoning doesn’t hold water.

  57. Aaron D. Campbell says:

    The road safety issue as it relates to children seems pretty clear-cut: the school day begins more or less around the same time as the standard office day, but ends earlier, so it should be a higher priority to have light(er) mornings in those latitudes where it’s a choice between the two, because there are more cars on the road.

    It seems to me that shifting school hours makes more sense than shifting the clock.

  58. Doodpants says:

    Surely the best solution to the whole DST thing is to get rid of all timezones. Everyone on UTC and be done with it.

    Then everyone and every location can work out hours of operation as they please.

    Right?

    I suspect you were trying to make that sound ridiculous, but I see nothing wrong with it.

  59. Steve says:

    Let’s just split the difference and move the clock forward half an hour, permanently.

  60. Mike Warren says:

    The real problem lies not with DST but in our screwy time zone map. The eastern time zone is much wider than it should be. Its western edge has shifted almost to the middle of the country.

    My problem with DST is that it begins just at the time of the year when MN (mother nature) has already started to fix the problem of too few daylight hours — as a morning person by the end of February I have started to feel like a human being again, then someone comes and pulls the carpet out from under me. The shock wasn’t so bad before they moved the date closer to the beginning of March. Maybe there would be less noise if they’d just stop moving the goalposts.

  61. nick s says:

    It seems to me that shifting school hours makes more sense than shifting the clock.

    It does, but school hours don’t exist in a vacuum, and shifting them means adjusting either parental work hours or pre-/after-school care arrangements. Which ain’t easy.

    jirwin: Anchorage (61N, pop. ~300,000) is an edge case here, and not really relevant to the broader discussion of optimizing daylight hours for the many millions of people who live in major urban areas in the contiguous US, particularly those between 40-45N.

  62. jirwin says:

    nick s: Population size doesn’t matter when the argument is based on birds chirping and it being “too dark” in the morning in winter. There are already functioning communities that operate under those circumstances. That is something that can’t be explained away with a simple “edge case” declaration.

  63. nick s says:

    Population size doesn’t matter when the argument is based on birds chirping and it being “too dark” in the morning in winter.

    I don’t believe I made that argument. The one I’m making is about the benefits of daylight during the times when human beings are in motion, and for that, population size and density is clearly a consideration.

    And if you’re trying to argue that Alaska isn’t an edge case when talking about time zone policy for the US — when it’s as wide as the lower 48, and significantly further north — I’m not sure you’re going to get that many takers. People in Anchorage deal with the cold, too.

  64. Bart Simpson says:

    Dr. Drang said tossed off. Heh!

  65. Aaron Massey says:

    This may be the first post in the history of the site that dismisses data-driven argument as “obvious bullshit” that “undermine(s) the public’s confidence in real science and real research.” Sure, you can find bad studies about DST, but you can find bad research on tons of stuff. That doesn’t mean good research doesn’t exist.

    For example, consider the National Bureau of Economic Research report titled Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana. This is a data-driven report based on Indiana’s relatively recent switch in 2006 from not following DST to following DST. It addresses a common argument made in favor of adopting a DST approach. The NBER is a well-respected organization with numerous Nobel Laureates as members. This particular report was co-authored an economist from Yale.

    Dr. Drang, does this qualify as “obvious bullshit?” Does this undermine real science and real research?

    I’m only asking because it seems like setting government policy based on personal preferences, like whether or not we want to take a walk in civil twilight, seems a lot more arbitrary than using the sorts of data-driven arguments that your site previously exemplified.

  66. Luke says:

    I just want to stand up and clap at the end of this, like in Hoosiers, or Rudy… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM0dbwDc2FE

  67. XaXaXa says:

    You’re really neglecting the health costs that DST brings with it. Especially when dealing with humans’ circadian rhythm. I’m not going to link the umpteen studies on heart attacks and DST, car accidents and DST, et cetera. Rather, let’s look at testosterone and sleep in men. If a man gets less than 6 hours sleep his testosterone drops significantly - ergo, 10% to 15% after just one week of sleep deprivation (5 hours or less). The men in the study were healthy males, with an average age of 24 years old (study is here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-05/uocm-sll053111.php).

    If we take into account that the average American averages 6 hours and 19 minutes of sleep per night, a reduced 1 hour due to the dictatorially imposed DST means testosterone stops dropping. The effects are well felt, beyond even the first week of time change.

    Besides “cyberloafing” increasing after DST (source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/ps-std030712.php), I think it’s an archaic construct from antiquitous ‘programmers’ of yore. The original idea for DST a hundred years ago was to give farmers and yeomen more light during the evening and to maximize the amount of sunlight starting from dusk. But our ancestors were statistically challenged - rather, they never actually tested DST other than the British politicians at the time thumping their iron fists and cudgels on their bully pulpits to make the necessary changes. We’ve followed antiquity religiously into modernity. Why? Humans hate change. It’s the same reason we continue to add fluoride to water since the 1950s and will continue to do so for the next 50 years.

    I propose a referendum on DST, with both camps for and against publicly arguing their points. You’ll find that the pros for not rolling the clocks back outweigh the cons.

  68. Dr. Drang says:

    Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days, but I’m going to take the white smoke coming out of the Vatican chimney as a sign to close up the comments on this one. After a while, it gets depressing to read yet another argument against something I didn’t say.