What is the Superior Time System?

This month, we will once again turn our clocks an hour forward and lose a precious 60 minutes of sleep. This annual tragedy, coupled with the annual respite of adding an hour to our day, creates the system of switching between daylight savings time and standard time. However, these seasonal clock changes have been proven to disrupt circadian rhythms and may even be bad for heart health. There have recently been efforts in both the US and the EU to abolish the switch, and it is clear that the system needs to change. But in that case, a major question remains: what is the superior time system?


The Case for Permanent Daylight Savings Time

It’s already dark by the time I step out of St. Nicks to return home after my first day of CIRCUS rehearsal, but my day is far from over. I have yet to finish my history project, study for my math quiz, hit the gym, shower, and eat dinner. But as I sit in traffic, I can feel myself growing more tired. I turn my Spotify playlist up to keep myself awake. With all I have left to do before I can crawl into bed, I already know it’s going to be a long night. 

This is the consequence of standard time, aka “winter time,” usually from early November to mid-March. During these five-or-so winter months, with their short fleeting days and long frigid nights, I tend to fall into depression. It can feel hard to focus on schoolwork and extracurriculars when it’s dark by the time we get out of school. Seasonal depression, ironically called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is characterized by increased fatigue, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating. Without getting into the nitty gritty of mental health diagnoses, I can say with certainty that many Lakesiders experience similar symptoms, especially compounded with the academic stress and strain we face on the daily. But with a permanent switch to daylight savings time, and an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, we may be able to partially negate the phenomenon of seasonal depression.

Science corroborates the assertion that a switch to permanent DST time would be beneficial to mental health. A 2017 study from Denmark found that “falling back” to standard time was linked to an 11% increase in depressive episodes for the following 10 weeks. Contrarily, “springing forward” to DST had little to no negative effect on mental health. 

“Darkness kills; sunshine saves,” says Steve Calandrillo, a professor of law at the University of Washington and a vocal supporter of a permanent switch to DST. Calandrillo’s research on the economic and societal effects of DST time have raised concerns about crime and car accidents during the winter, when standard time is adopted. According to his data, crime rates and fatal vehicle-on-pedestrian crashes skyrocket after the sun has set, leading him to theorize that by adding an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, we may be able to decrease those figures. 

Safety should always be our priority. Well, safety and my personal sanity during arguably the worst months of the year. The effects of standard time on seasonal depression alone provide a strong enough argument to switch to permanent DST, and joined by evidence that it could literally save lives, it is clearly the better way to go.

Lucy K. ’24


The Case for Permanent Standard Time

Daylight savings time was first implemented in the U.S. in 1918 due to World War I practicalities, and yet, even in 2023, it is seasonally used in a majority of U.S. states. Justifications for its usage have ranged from misconceptualized environmental arguments to the claim that corporations’ profits rise when there’s more evening sunlight. But there’s one major component missing from these arguments: scientific evidence. When deciding between switching to permanent standard time as opposed to permanent DST, it is imperative that we look at the facts to settle this issue once and for all. 

The main benefit, by far, of standard time is that it would make mornings lighter. Lakesiders are busy with homework, extracurriculars, and trying to enjoy high school, all of which often comes at the cost of sleep. While permanent standard time wouldn’t give us more hours of sleep every night, it would make getting up in the morning easier. Would you rather wake up to complete darkness or with a nice ray of sunlight shining through your window? Additionally, the extra sunlight in the morning would increase serotonin levels, improving moods throughout the day, and boosting quality of sleep in general. 

Permanent standard time would not only make mornings easier year-round; it would also better align our internal clocks with solar time. While this might not sound important at first, there is actually lots of evidence showing that a close alignment with solar time helps our bodies’ circadian rhythm, which is crucial for healthy sleep. Similarly, standard time makes falling asleep at night easier, due to the increase in your body’s melatonin production, caused by the lack of sunlight at night.

Lastly, it’s a common misconception that DST is better for the environment than standard time. A study in Indiana, conducted by Yale professor Matthew Kotchen and Claremont McKenna professor Laura Grant, found that DST actually caused residential electricity usage to slightly rise, increasing carbon emissions. While the study concluded that neither time system drastically reduced emissions, it is still important to recognize the argument that DST benefits the environment is false. 

As someone who already doesn’t get enough sleep and is well aware of the fact that many Lakesiders don’t, I hope that we make the switch to permanent standard time. A permanent switch to standard time wouldn’t negatively impact the environment and would mean a better start to your day. It would mean being able to fall asleep easier at night. It would mean choosing our time system by listening to scientific facts, once and for all. 

Mason D. ’25