O'BRIEN: It's time to do away with springing forward and falling back

Posted: Mar. 15, 2013 6:46 pm Updated: Apr. 26, 2013 7:15 pm


Blame it on Justin Timberlake. The former boy band star was the host of "Saturday Night Live" last week and suckered me in.

That guy is pretty talented. The late-20s me would slap the present-day me for admitting that, but the kid from 'N Sync is fun to watch. He's funny, and he can sing -- two things that make you a good "SNL" host. So I stayed up past my bedtime.

When I slept in Sunday, I thought I was getting up about 11 a.m. Thanks to daylight saving time, it was almost noon already. It's amazing how that one lost hour made you feel like the entire day was being played on fast forward. That feeling carried over into Monday and into the rest of the week.

Why do we change our clocks twice a year? Daylight saving time is in effect for nearly eight months out of the year now. We won't fall back until Nov. 3. Wouldn't it be worth the wear and tear to just skip this whole time game?

According to a Los Angeles Times story, this past week was one of the most dangerous ones to our health. The highlights from the Times' article were:

º We are more likely to have a heart attack in the first week after the clocks are switched to daylight saving time. A group of researchers in Sweden found that the incidence of acute myocardial infarctions was 3.9 percent higher than usual in the first week after we set our clocks forward.

º A study done by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996 found that traffic accidents are 8.6 percent more common on the first Monday of daylight saving time.

º Sleep Medicine magazine released a study in 1999 that looked at 21 years of data from fatal automobile accidents in the U.S. The study concluded that "the sleep deprivation on the Monday following the shift to (daylight saving time) in the spring results in a small increase in fatal accidents."

º Accidents in the workplace are more common, too, in the days after we spring forward. The Journal of Applied Psychology published an article in 2009 that looked at 23 years worth of data from the mining industry. The study concluded that workers not only were injured more on the Monday after the change, but the injuries were also more severe. The same study said that on Mondays after the change to standard time -- the fall back -- that there were no significant differences in sleep, injury quantity or injury severity.

º Researchers in Singapore found that even when we're at work on the Monday after springing forward, we do less work. A 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology said increased sleepiness on the first Monday after the time change led to "a dramatic increase in cyberloafing behavior." Instead of working, we spend more time goofing off on the Internet when the time changes.

Daylight saving time was first used in the U.S. during the two World Wars and was made a standard practice in 1966 with the the Uniform Time Act. We use daylight saving time to conserve energy. During the duration of daylight saving time, traffic accident totals and crime statistics go down.

Why not just use daylight saving time year around and make it the new standard time?

Then I wouldn't feel guilty about by staying up to watch my favorite boy band member perform.




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