Daylight Savings Time – The Original Nudge

November 9th, 2010

This morning when I woke up, I feel unusually refreshed. I had gone to sleep as late as usual, and had about the same number of hours of sleep. Yet, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I somehow managed to trick my brain into thinking I had more sleep than usual. Daylight Savings Time has been employed since the Roman Empire to dupe people out of staying up too late.

Wikipedia has this interesting story about Ben Franklin, DST, and France:

During his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, anonymously published a letter suggesting thatParisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.[16]This 1784 satire proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise.

I suppose this would be the opposite of Bastiat’s Candlemaker’s Petition.

DST is perfect Choice Architecture. Nudge people towards going to sleep earlier, and thus consuming less fuel. Cass Sunstein would approve.