Daylight Saving Time: Early Birds vs. Night Owls
We've all heard the famous 17th century English phrase, "The early bird catches the worm."
But this is not necessarily true for everyone, especially in today's high-tech modern world.
Therefore, I pose these questions:
- Are you an early riser or nocturnal by nature?
- Do you rise at the crack of dawn with roosters, or howl at the moon with wolves?
- Which type of person -- "early bird" or "night owl" -- is more productive in the workplace and life generally?
- Which lifestyle results in greater health and happiness?
The answers to the aforementioned questions should reveal how you, and/or your employer,
approach the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST), which concludes this weekend in the
USA. That's when we push back the clocks (or "fall back"). The sun will then rise and set one hour earlier every day until March 2017 when we revert back to DST (or "spring forward").
In addition to the USA, about 70 countries are reportedly impacted by DST. Moreover, there are practical reasons why DST makes good business sense, according to some experts. This is because the end of DST entails some detrimental consequences, including:
- Lost work productivity, and
- Increased health hazards.
all reportedly costs the USA about half a billion dollars annually in productivity losses.
Some argue that DST is a boon to the overall economy which should be welcomed. For others, it's more personal.
Good News for Early Birds
The end of DST is great news for early risers, like my better half (a school teacher). She’s thrilled not only about gaining an extra hour of sleep on Sunday, but also not having to wake up and commute to work in the dark. This makes perfect sense from her perspective, as her work day begins and ends earlier, whereas I'm the opposite.
Therein stems the dilemma between early birds versus night owls. But what makes that mere hour of extra sunlight in the evening such a valuable commodity for so many people, like me, who are nocturnal by nature?
I think there are both professional and practical reasons for making Daylight Saving Time permanent throughout the year.
Consider a few factors why...
First, we all consume vast amounts of energy in today’s high-tech mobile, digital, and virtual Information Age.
Thus, in an effort to enhance energy efficiency and business cost savings, countless numbers of companies have gone “green” with the advent and growing popularity of solar energy.
Therefore, losing that extra hour of sunlight means more money spent by employers and consumers alike. To the contrary, many companies and individuals may not care much about energy efficiency and the so-called Green Revolution.
Even if you’re not reliant on solar energy, the lights in tens of millions of homes and office buildings will remain on longer causing significant costs.
According to the website TimeAndDate:
- “Pro DST arguments are that more light can counteract blackouts and other electrical failures that can occur later in the day and that it influences people to spend more time out of the house, thus using less lighting and electrical appliances.”
Another consequential drawback of losing an hour of sunlight is
less productivity for some employees and increased costs for some
industries, like tourism.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve observed over the years that more workers tend to go home earlier once it becomes dark outside and most tourists tend to curtail their outdoor activities. This might have something to do with our subconscious mind equating darkness with quitting time on the job and being indoors at home.
TimeAndDate also tells us:
- “The tourist industry welcomes DST, claiming that the extra hour of sunlight makes people stay out later, thus spending more money on activities like festivals, shopping and concerts.”
- “The Belfast Telegraph reports that the extra evening light gives Northern Ireland at least £6.34 million a year in extra cash from tourists.”
It’s certainly no secret that darkness impairs the vision of drivers, which leads to more vehicular accidents.
More folks fall asleep at the wheel, have collisions with other vehicles or objects, and hit innocent pedestrians trying to cross the street or bike home from work, for example.
- “Studies link DST to reduced road injuries,” reports TimeandDate.
- “A joint Transport Research Laboratory and University College of London study predicted that fewer people would be killed and injured in road accidents if one hour of daylight was transferred from the morning to the afternoon.”
Other Health Hazards
The medical community -- particularly cardiology, psychiatry and psychology -- are well aware that less daylight leads to an increased risk of heart attacks, in addition to higher rates of depression and suicide.
For instance, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) negatively impacts the health and well being of millions of people across the globe. Of course, this is remedied to some extent by medication, therapy and the use of light boxes to provide more artificial light.
Still, SAD remains problematic as a health concern. To the contrary, more sunlight results in better mental and physical health.
According to UK-based media outlet The Week:
“Lighter evenings would have a positive benefit for public health, say researchers." -- The Week
- The Week reports: "One study of 23,000 children, published on the BBC, found that their daily activity levels were 15 to 20 per cent higher on summer days than winter days and that moving the clocks back causes a five per cent drop in physical activity.”
Shelby Harris, an expert on sleep disorders and other medical issues, wrote this in the New York Times regarding changing the clock:
- “One hour may not seem extreme, but we can’t reset our circadian rhythms as easily as we change the time on the microwave.”
- “It’s clear that the human body does not readily or easily adapt to jarring changes in the alarm clock.“
- "We could keep daylight saving time or not, but if health and safety are the deciding factors, we should stop switching back and forth.”
Let the Sun Shine
The aforementioned factors represent a few things to consider as the evening looms earlier. But what’s most important for YOU?
In essence, whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, everyone appears to give a hoot or chirp about DST.
Where do YOU stand and why?
Lastly, some people, like me, find peace, tranquility and inspiration in nature. This includes
watching the sunset or sunrise.
I believe this is true for many writers and creative types.
For me, observing a beautiful sunset helps spark my creative thought process, serving as a catalyst for new ideas,
inspiration and motivation. Thus, as a "night owl" observing sunsets are much easier for me when
they occur later in the day.
But regardless of whether you rise at the crack of dawn with roosters, or howl at the moon with wolves, remember this:
The clock is always ticking...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I'm
an independent writer and
strategic communications advisor with over 20 years of experience in the
public and private sectors -- including work in the White House, Congress and national news media. I'm also a Brand Ambassador for beBee Affinity Social Network. In addition to beBee, you
can find me buzzing around on Twitter, Medium and LinkedIn.
NOTE: All views and opinions are those of the author only and not official statements or endorsements of any public sector employer, private sector employer, organization or political entity.