The Madness of Daylight Saving Time


If you were like me, you got by surprise in the start of daylight saving time (DST). I found ou Monday while watching CNN, they really screwed up, I thought, in comparing my time with the CNN’s Eastern Time. Oh, wait, Pacific Time (PT) if off too. Wolf Blitzer is not supposed to be on yet. Your favorite programs are CBS and ABC (no NBC in Costa Rica) are now one hour earlier.

Growing up in Canada, I remember that it was “spring forward and fall back”; spring meaning near the end of March or beginning of April and fall in October. But that has all changed, now Daylight time runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, and since Costa Rica does not subscribe to DST and that the sun rises and pretty much sets at the same time of the day, every day, we tend to forget that the northern part of the Americas goes through the change.

But is Daylight Saving Time necessary? What are the benefits? In my search for some answers, I came across these two great articles: The dark side of daylight saving time and 100 years later, the madness of daylight saving time endures.


In the first, we learn that even with the extra daylight, the facts don’t look so good. The American public has had a love-hate relationship with daylight saving time since it first became law in 1918. Personal preferences aside, the empirical evidence for the intended benefits of daylight saving time are mixed at best, whereas the costs of the switch to daylight saving time are becoming increasingly evident.

At the crux of these costs is the effect of the time shift on our sleep patterns. When we spring forward, the clocks on the wall advance, but our body clocks do not change so readily. It generally takes a few days for us to adapt to the time change in a way that allows us to fall asleep at our typical time. The upshot is that Americans sleep approximately 40 minutes less than usual on the Sunday to Monday night following the switch.

Misusing computers at work can be costly. rawpixel/

In Costa Rica, since the sun comes up around 5 each morning, there is no time shift in our sleep. The traffic congestion on the roads starts at the same time.

“The time change affects our judgment. The research revealed that the shift to daylight saving time influences our ability to perceive the moral features of a given situation. We again examined internet search behavior and followed up with our own experiment. In the experiment we kept half of our research participants awake throughout the night and allowed the other half to get a full night of sleep. The next day we presented them with scenarios that contained varying levels of moral content,” writes David Wagner, author of the ‘Dark Side’ article.

An interesting shift on the DST is happening in Florida. Michael Downing, lecturer in Creative Writing at Tufts University, in his ‘100 years article’ writes about Florida’s lawmakers last week passing the Sunshine Protection Act which will make daylight saving a year-round reality in the Sunshine State.

If approved by the federal government, this will effectively move Florida’s residents one time zone to the east, aligning cities from Jacksonville to Miami with Nova Scotia rather than New York and Washington, D.C.

Interesting. If the Florida change to ADT (Atlantic Daylight Time) is approved you will need to keep in mind that Miami would be three hours ahead of Costa Rica and not two as is the rest of the eastern US and Canada.

Actress Barbara Lawrence reminds television viewers to set the clock ahead, from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m., on April 29, 1956. AP Photo

In the words of Micheal Downing, “It’s absurd – and fitting – that a century later, opponents and supporters of daylight saving are still not sure exactly what it does. Despite its name, daylight saving has never saved anyone anything. But it has proven to be a fantastically effective retail spending plan.”

Following is a link to articles about Daylight Saving Time in Costa Rica.