We need to stop springing forward in time

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Twice a year, Americans go through the painstaking process of changing the time on every single clock in their household. Daylight saving time, for the residents of Hawaii and Arizona who may be blissfully unaware given that their states do not participate, is when clocks are set an hour ahead of standard time for the spring and summer. Brought to the United States by the Nazis in the 1940s, the primary purpose of this was to conserve energy to continue WW2. 

Yet, recent scientific data has shown that daylight saving increases energy consumption by 1%. In addition, the desynchronization of clocks with our bodies has been associated with serious health complications. This task is an inconvenience, especially for USC students abroad who already have to deal with time zone differences. With 71% of Americans wanting to halt this ritual, the time has come to stop “springing forward” in time.

People assume that by sacrificing their sleep, and in some cases their sanity, they will ultimately conserve more energy by using less light. They are correct in that there is a proven decrease in consumption of electricity for lighting. However, researchers argue that daylight saving increases demand for cooling in summer evenings and heating in spring and summer mornings. This has resulted in a 1% uptick in energy consumption with daylight saving time. In Indiana, studies found that the extra hour cost households an additional $9 million a year. In other words, the process is energy intensive and cost ineffective.

The time change is also linked to increased heart attacks and strokes. This is because each cell in our bodies keeps track of the time for biological processes. When the clocks go forward, the human body detects changes in daily patterns. This triggers stress signals in our brains, causing sleep deprivation, disorientation and memory loss.

Some scientists even argue that the desynchronization of clocks has mutated our clock gene, which tracks our sleep-wake schedule. This could lead to dysfunctions in cardiac functions. Daylight saving time is not just some nagging task on our to do list — it can seriously damage our health.

Since the advent of Zoom University, students are scattered across the globe while taking online classes. International students already have to grapple with 16-hour time differences, with many transitioning to a nocturnal life to be able to attend classes. Adding an extra hour, only to take it away three months later, is confusing and detrimental to their educational experience. Moreover, 60% of nations worldwide don’t use daylight saving.

The argument that daylight saving time is beneficial is a myth. California has already attempted to vote on eliminating the time change ritual, with 60% of voters approving the proposition in 2018. But, thanks to the bureaucracy that plagues the United States, the proposal stalled in the California State Senate and was never passed.

It is USC’s responsibility to push for this proposal again, for the health and sanity of our students. Student organizations could reach out to state and federal representatives, urging the California State Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications to bring up the Daylight Saving proposal (AB-7) in the next legislative session. This could be done through consistent lobbying. Then, hopefully with USC’s seal of approval, the will of the voters may be enacted, and daylight saving time will be eradicated.