MARTY RUSSELL: Daylight Saving Time will either kill you or cost you

By Marty Russell

We make the annual switch to Daylight Saving Time this weekend when we spring our clocks forward to take advantage of the increasingly longer hours of daylight as the vernal equinox, otherwise known as spring, approaches. Benjamin Franklin is credited with first proposing the idea while living in Paris with an essay titled, “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” as a way to save candles. By essentially moving an hour from morning to evening the rationale is that we can take advantage of natural sunlight and reduce dependence on electric lights.
But apparently that’s about as rationale as Sheen and Gadhafi and just as controversial. Republicans in the Georgia state Senate Monday beat back a resolution by one of its members commending Daylight Saving Time calling it “silly.” Those same senators then proceeded to pass Senate Bill 61 which decrees that all light bulbs made in Georgia be free from federal regulations. Problem is, there are no light bulbs manufactured in Georgia. What’s next? A Unicorn Adoption Bill?
Studies have shown that Daylight Saving Time doesn’t actually save anything and may actually cost you, perhaps even your life. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine titled, “Daylight Saving Time and Incidence of Myocardial Infraction” showed significant increases in heart attacks for the first three days following the switch compared to relatively few when we switch back to Standard Time. The theory is that the switch to Daylight Saving Time interferes with our biological rhythms affecting the duration and quality of sleep for a few days.
An Australian study looked at suicide data over a 30-year period and found that male suicides increase significantly in the weeks following the change-over. And in 1999, West Bank terrorists, who were still on Daylight Saving Time, smuggled bombs to their comrades in Israel who were on Standard Time. Because the timers had been set for Daylight Saving Time, the bombs went off an hour earlier than the terrorists were expecting killing three probably very surprised terrorists.
And Daylight Saving Time can not only kill you but cost you. A 2008 study in Indiana showed that, because we actually get up earlier during Daylight Saving Time, we use more heat in the colder months of spring. And because we get home from work actually earlier in the summer months, we use more air conditioning. The result? The Indiana study showed Daylight Saving Time actually costs that state’s residents $9 million, or about $3.29 more per household.
Ben Franklin was one of the early proponents of electricity but he also said a penny saved is a penny earned. If he were alive today, I wonder what old Ben would think now about his Daylight Saving Time idea?
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu