The Morning After The Clocks Went Back

Daylight Savings Time

Some woke up in a confused state on Sunday morning but it was nothing to do with their Saturday night shenanigans! Just as they woke and peered at their watch, clock or phone to establish what time it was, they were momentarily stupefied into a false sense of presence. The time showed they slept a lot longer than they planned, perhaps leading them to backtrack to the moment they fell asleep. Their bewilderment may well have triggered in them a feeling of fleeting anxiety.

Failing to remember changing the clock is understandable. There are only two times a year this happens and so it’s an anomaly of sorts. The reason behind changing time twice a year is curious.

Researchers and government officials are now looking at the continued benefit of daylight saving time. It dates back to the beginning of civilisation which allowed for the work day to be adjusted around the amount of sun light available. Then in 1784, Benjamin Franklin came to the conclusion that getting up earlier in the morning meant that people would save money on candlelight.

One hundred and one years later the New Zealand astronomer George Vernon Hudson broached the idea of a two-hour change in time. By 1907 the idea was adapted by William Willet who proposed advancing the clock in four separate steps – to give an overall augmentation of 80 minutes. During World War 1 and World War 2 daylight saving was put in place and this decreased the demand for certain products but, once the wars ceased, normal time frames were again restored. Presently, 40% of countries adopt daylight saving time, although a recent study in Ireland resulted in 63% of respondents reporting that the concept should no longer be continued.

Although daylight saving has good theoretical ideals for saving money, there is little actual proof that it works. From an economic perspective, a study in 2008 found that there was only a 1% rise in electrical usage within households. Even more alarming was the evidence that daylight saving disrupts people’s sleep patterns and increases the risk of heart attack!

Electricity Towers

There is only a 1% rise in domestic electricity usage during the Irish winter

Many people also suffer from symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) once Autumn kicks in, leaving them with feelings quite similar to depression. Another parallel with this time of year is the fact that one in four Irish people over 50 experience a deficiency in vitamin D.

Vitamin D allows for bone metabolism and improves non-skeletal health and muscle strength. With 17 absentee days occurring for each seasonal affective disorder sufferer across Ireland in the period 2002-2013, it may be worth researching how productive sufferers actually are in the workplace.  As illnesses and conditions such as these affect people’s health, then naturally they have an impact on an already pressurised Health Service Executive.

Given the fact that daylight saving was originally created to benefit economies, it’s questionable as to why it still exists – especially as the greatest asset to any business is its people. Perhaps if people were given sufficient opportunity to perform more optimally, productivity and the economy would benefit in turn.

With all that in mind, who knows, maybe the decision makers who instigated daylight saving time all those years ago were confused and SAD during their Saturday night shenanigans!?

About the Author

Conor Hogan
As a native Galwegian, Conor Hogan teaches and consults across the areas of education, well-being and health while also researching human behaviour for his PhD at NUI Galway. After winning regional and national leadership awards, he blogged and co-authored a book on Mental Health for Millennials. He tells us he will endeavour to enrapture the glint of the Galway Eye 🙂 You can find out more about Conor at