Scientists explain our dislike of Daylight Savings Time

The railroad industry is the reason we have time zones at all; before the advent of rail few people traveled long distances fast enough for the differences in local times to matter.

Of course now that we have an entire global economy built around information that travels at the speed of light it would be tricky to go back to the days of “noon is when the sun is directly overhead in your subjective location, assuming your village even has a clock to keep track of time in the first place.”


Reminds me:


But you still have the issue where not everyone above or below a certain latitude within the same time zone experiences dawn and dusk at the same time. The sun doesn’t rise at the same time in northern Ontario at the same time as it rises in Long Island even though they’re both much closer to the arctic circle than they are to the equator.

So what’s wrong with just having businesses and organizations set seasonal hours based on what makes sense for their subjective situation?


Salem, Oregon, is right around the 45th parallel. During Summer’s peak DST hours (June), sunrise is around 5:00 AM, give or take a few minutes, for about a month. If we kept Standard time, sunrise would be 4:00 AM instead.

Similarly, during Winter’s peak ST (December), sunrise is around 7:20 AM, give or take a few minutes, for a month. If we kept DST, sunrise would be around 8:20 AM.

Choosing one or the other is going to create waves in either direction, largely because - no matter how much we hate it - we’re also used to it. I’m still not really used to DST ending in November instead of October, and that’s been 20 years of so of it.


Here’s what we should do. We should move some darkness to the middle of the day when kids are at school and most of us at work. Then we please the early risers AND the people who want to go to the park when it’s 40 degrees outside. Who’s with me?


Or progressively shorten or lengthen the work day so that we all have the same relative daylight free-time hours as in Summer?


Tell you what. Before taking that idea nationwide let’s do a one-day trial run across a relatively narrow stretch of the country to see how people like it. Like maybe we try it out in a few cities at different latitudes like Dallas, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Buffalo?

May take a few weeks to prepare this test though. Does April 8th work for you?


Beyond preference, there’s a matter of social cost. More commuting in the dark means more road accidents. More kids walking to school in the dark means more pedestrian fatalities. These need to be considered – I would argue that they have greater weight than people’s desire to have more daylight free time.

I’m definitely a ST person on that metric alone, but one concrete benefit of the changes in DST in the early 2000s was that Halloween is now during DST every year, leading to greatly reduced pedestrian fatalities that night. The obvious solution is therefore to have ST year round and a national holiday on Halloween so that kids can go trick-or-treating in the midafternoon.

(The real actual solution is to destroy the system that requires most of us to commit the majority of our daylight hours to bullshit work, but that’s neither here nor there.)


I guess it just turns out it’s easier to change the measurement of time itself than to get businesses to do something for the public interest. :man_shrugging:


at first i read that as gradually shifting 12:00 each day ( which i suppose, with most things being digital time, we could ) – but actually adapting our work days to meet the daylight sounds good.

( although then we could get into the debate where i’d rather work when its dark, and have the whole summer off; which means commuting would remain a largely nocturnal activity )


When we move back an hour, it should be during our leisure time, say Saturday or Sunday morning.
When we jump ahead an hour we should do it outside our leisure time, say 4pm on a Friday.


DST is the best. Nobody worth listening to prefers it getting dark out at, like, 5pm. Those people are crazy. I have spoken.

On the other hand, I suppose too much daylight can’t be good for the environment, amiright?!


Have you seen any literature that actually demonstrates an increased risk of permanent DST vs changing times. Quite a few countires have stopped changing clocks so there should be lots of data. Daylight saving time by country - Wikipedia But I have only seen news articles with often conflicting opinions.

Where I live, it’s bascially trading which end of the day is dark. Am I commuting home in the dark or to work in the dark? (I usually get both ends being dark in the winter…) Same with the kids, are they coming home in the dark or going to school in the dark?

These debates happened in my home province and the decision was made that it was best to move to permanent DST. However we are tied to Washington and California doing the same…


That part. Which really isn’t that difficult to accomplish. Make corporations pay workers for their commute time. Overnight there would be mandatory work-from-home for all non-hands-on workers and more equitable pay for hands-on workers, along with a massive reduction of vehicles on the road and congestion. It’s win-win-win-win.


Tell me you live closer to the Tropic of Cancer than the 45th parallel without saying it. 5 pm would be pretty awesome toward the end of December compared to the not-quite 4 pm we actually get on December 21. :face_with_monocle:


I just hate moving my sundial twice a year.


I’m on team ST 100% I’m 5 hours behind EST and being 6 hours behind EDT is an hour more of suck when it comes to daily meetings. I’d be somewhat ambivalent if it meant Hawaii would make a change to HDT but that would be annoying still.


and @Spadley

Mornings were dark enough during the winter when I was a kid, I don’t think it would have been improved by having to go to school during astronomical twilight. 7 hours of actual daylight on the winter solstice and that’s your lot. Moving that by an hour will achieve nothing other than an increase in road crashes in the morning.

The North of England would shut down by necessity if it had BST in December, as well as Scotland. Having said that, Half-Day December actually sounds good. Take the morning off and go into work or school for 1PM.


There’s also that “fun” bit in June when it doesn’t get properly dark at night.


I actually LIKE DST - and I want it to STAY on DST all the time.

I thought we passed a law that the US wasn’t going to do this any more - what happened?

“…more access to sunlight”

The amount of sunlight obviously doesn’t change between ST and DST. Want more access to it? Get your ass out of bed in the morning when the sun rises. Permanent DST would suck in the winter when it wouldn’t even get light out until 8:00 AM or so.

I lived through that failed experiment in the 70’s when we switched to year round DST. It was a bad, bad idea.