clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The awfulness of daylight saving time, mapped

Brian Resnick is Vox’s science and health editor, and is the co-creator of Unexplainable, Vox's podcast about unanswered questions in science. Previously, Brian was a reporter at Vox and at National Journal.

One of the biggest problems with daylight saving time is that for many of us with 9-to-5 jobs, our sunrises and sunsets often occur at odd times. Some people hate waking up at 7 am for a 9-to-5 and finding it's still dark out. Others find it sad to leave work at 5 pm amid total darkness. There are also major inequalities within individual time zones. New York City and Detroit are both in Eastern time. The sun will rise in Detroit at 7:28 am Friday. In New York City, it will rise at 6:48 am.

So how might this change if we abolished or extended daylight saving? Cartographer Andy Woodruff decided to visualize this with an excellent series of maps.

First, he looked at how many days per year people around the United States receive "reasonable" sunrise and sunset times, defined as the sun rising at 7 am or earlier or setting after 5 pm (so one could, conceivably, spend some time in the sun before or after work). Right now a lot of people have unreasonable sunrises (the dark spots) for much of the year:

Daylight saving time as currently observed. Andy Woodruff

Here's how things would change if daylight saving was abolished. Better, particularly on the sunrise end, and better for residents of Michigan and especially west Texas:

If daylight saving time were abolished. Andy Woodruff

And here's what would happen if daylight saving were always in effect. The sunrise situation would actually be worse for most people, but many more people would enjoy after-work light:

If daylight saving time were always in effect. Andy Woodruff

Note: The length of light we experience each day wouldn't change. That's determined by the tilt of Earth's axis. But we would experience it at times more accommodating for our modern world.

Be sure to check out the interactive version of these maps on Woodruff's website.

Watch: The case against time zones