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Spring forward, and stay there

Saturday, March 8, 2014
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Despite the lost hour of sleep, the act of setting clocks forward an hour — one of our surest signs of nascent spring — had to have been particularly gratifying this year after such a long, hard winter.

But a lot of people forget to “spring forward,” and even those who remember can have problems with the disruption of their internal clocks and delicate sleep cycles. Indeed, research indicates that the incidence of early-morning heart attacks rises the first day or two after the clocks jump each year, because some people have trouble adjusting. So why bother?

While there are pros and cons to the debate, it seems that, on balance, we’d be better off simply leaving the clocks alone in spring and fall.

For one thing, it would be safer to have the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day rather than at the beginning, because more people are awake and moving around at night. Yes, it’s more dangerous to have kids standing out on street corners waiting for school buses first thing in the morning when it’s dark, but there are fewer motorists out then than in the late afternoon. (And kids aren’t the only ones who get in motorists’ way when they’re driving after dark.)

The same, apparently, holds true for burglars, robbers, vandals, etc.: They’re more likely to commit crimes after nightfall than before dawn, so it makes more sense to let the sun set at a later hour.

The same holds true regarding energy consumption: With more people eating dinner at 6 p.m. than breakfast at 6 a.m., it makes more sense to have them turning their lights on and stoking their furnaces early than late.

The mere act of fiddling with time creates fatigue-related health issues for many people regarding their coordination and alertness — another reason why traffic accidents seem to spike whenever we do mess with the clocks.

Granted, some people would be negatively impacted by leaving the clocks alone, and having Daylight Savings Time year-round, but not as many as would benefit.

 
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