It's time to ditch daylight savings

November just got a whole lot darker

Sofia thinks daylight savings is outdated and hurts student morale.
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The clocks turning back one hour on Nov. 2 marks that time of year when you walk out of your lecture at 5:30 p.m. to find it pitch-black outside. 

Student morale drops as the difference between 12 a.m. and 5 p.m. blur, and the chill from the waterfront makes walking to the library for a late-night study session a chore. 

Packed with end-of-semester papers and tests, November and December are daunting, frigid, and dark months as the fun of fall, Homecoming, and Halloween is replaced with an eagerness for the semester to be over. 

Imagine walking out of your 5:30 p.m. lecture with the sun beating down and knowing you have a few hours left to seize the day. Sure, you're bundled under three layers, and the wind lashes your cheeks as you walk down University Ave., but at least it's still light out. 

This could be a reality if not for the antiquated daylight savings, leaving many of us questioning why we still turn our clocks back in November. How is it be physically or mentally beneficial? 

Daylight savings was based on the idea that moving clocks forward would mean more daylight and higher levels of productivity in the spring. 

During World War I it helped soldiers: daylight savings was introduced to increase production for the war effort and save energy. 

However, with TVs, cars, and the many other energy-using technologies present today, it’s anachronistic to think we are conserving more energy when it's light outside. 

In their rush to get to class, students forget to turn off their bedroom lights. Meanwhile, cafes in downtown Kingston need to accommodate their customers by using lights, and lecture hall illumination is often kept on all day. 

Although it’s important to preserve energy, the idea that daylight savings would indeed encourage us to turn off the lights is unrealistic. If anything, the energy preservation that happens in the spring is undermined by the amount of energy used in the winter when the clocks turn back. 

Having a law such as daylight savings is synonymous with many archaic policies still instilled today that were made by officials facing highly different circumstances and problems. By removing daylight savings, Canada would be one step closer to breaking away from out-of-touch laws and creating a country more compatible with current social conditions. 

Daylight savings profoundly impacts people’s mental and physical health. 

Turning back the clocks causes a de-synchronization of our bodies that can exacerbate symptoms of depression over time. Here we see seasonal depression come into play, where students find themselves lacking motivation and are less happy in the colder, darker months. 

A lack of light also decreases melatonin production, affecting our mood and sleep patterns. This drop in melatonin further exacerbates the dreadfulness of November and December as our bodies are busy adjusting to a new time change. 

When it gets dark outside, the likelihood of car accidents also increases

J-walking has become normal among busy students needing to get to class on time or get home after a long day of studying. It’s already dangerous enough given all the cars traveling kilometres above the speed limit, and it becomes more difficult for vehicles to see students sprinting across the road as darkness falls on campus. 

Ending daylight savings underscores the idea that if we deal with issues at a provincial level, we can improve policy at the municipal level. 

Municipal officials need to deal with street safety and unsafe driving in the University District whether or not the provincial government ends daylight savings. However, if daylight savings were to end, the perturbation of night-time driving and j-walking would be a less serious issue as accidents decrease under well-lit conditions. 

Daylight savings could encourage students to wake up earlier so they can get the most out of the daylight, but during a time when all-nighters and partying are consistently practiced, it’s counterproductive to sacrifice sleep in favour of productivity. How are you supposed to be more productive when you're functioning on four hours of sleep? 

It's hard to think of any reason why turning the clocks back is beneficial to students. Getting rid of such a concept would quell anxieties about productivity and mental health, making it easier for students to focus on friendships and school. 

Seizing the day is hard—it’s even harder with less time. 

 

Sofia is a third-year history student.

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