If you're like many Americans, you look forward to the extra hour of sleep that comes with the end of Daylight Saving Time, or "fall back" in November, and you dread the hour of lost sleep during "spring forward" each March. However, if you reside in the state of Arizona, you never have to change your clock or adjust your sleep schedule. Arizona and Hawaii have avoided Daylight Saving Time for over 40 years, and they don't appear to be changing their minds any time soon. What is the actual point of Daylight Saving Time and why doesn't Arizona follow suit? Read on to learn more.
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Daylight Saving Time first originated to help towns and cities use energy more efficiently and cut down on energy costs. This was especially true during an oil shortage in the 1970s that forced Americans to conserve energy as much as possible. In North America, sunrise and sunset times vary at different times of the year much more than territories closer to the equator, so changing our clocks twice a year helps us get more sunshine during waking hours, especially after work.
Having more afternoon and evening sunlight leads to some economic benefits, like increased sales of sporting goods and golf tee times. It has also been shown to save about 0.3% electricity these days when Daylight Saving Time is in effect. That percentage may sound small, but it roughly translates to powering 100,000 homes per year in America.
Arizona opted out of Daylight Saving Time mostly due to its climate. Arizona is known for its extremely hot temperatures, especially in the middle of the summer. Bringing clocks forward in March would mean sunlight until 9pm in most parts of Arizona, which would also mean blazing hot temperatures until about that time too. This would make it difficult to reasonably conduct any outdoor activities, like golfing or farming in the afternoons and evenings, as it's simply too hot to participate in these activities in the midday sun and heat.
Cars parked outside can also pose a threat to a person's health in hot climates. According to Arizona State University, cars can reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees in as little as an hour. It's simply not safe to get into a car of these temperatures to go to restaurants, bars, or anywhere else a person may want to go. Having one less hour of extreme heat during waking hours can protect people from the dangers of being in an unfathomably hot car for any period of time.
Oddly enough, some pockets of Arizona still do participate in Daylight Saving Time. One such pocket is the Navajo Reservation, as its territory covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
Hawaii hasn't observed DST since 1945, for a very simple reason: their sunrise and sunsets don't vary all that much. Being so close to the equator, and very little changes in sunset or sunrise times, gave Hawaii very little advantage to taking part in DST.
Recently, many people have started to question the merit of Daylight Saving Time, wondering if the meager benefits truly outweigh the burdens. Some studies have found that adjusting our clocks twice a year is associated with adverse effects. Predictable problems correlated with DST include scheduling difficulties and misunderstandings, temporary sleep problems, and drops in work productivity. Less predictable associations with time changes include increased rates of ischemic stroke, more workplace injuries, and higher amounts of heart attacks.
While we can't say that Daylight Saving Time directly causes these unpleasant effects, these associations show that eliminating DST is still at least worth consideration.
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