Friday, October 12, 2012

How daylight saving time burns calories

Daylight savings time was introduced to save energy. Because humans who have access to electricity seem to have a natural tendency to stay up late at night and wake up when the sun is already out, changing clocks seem to coax them into moving their daily cycle closer to the natural cycle. As fewer lights are then on, one saves energy.

Hendrik Wolff and Momoe Makino show that humans compensate by using up more energy themselves. Looking at the period around which we need to adjust our watches one way or the other, they find that daylight savings time leads to an immediate drop in time spend in front of the television to the benefit of outdoor activities. And this healthy behavior leads to an increased calorie consumption, to the tune of about 200 calories a day. Hmm, I wonder whether similar results would be obtained by comparing people along a timezone border. And whether it would be worth moving daylight savings time by two hours instead of one.

No comments: