Being a pragmatic person, I love saving things. I admire Dr. Who for saving the universe time and time again. I get all excited when I save money. Sometimes I even save the day when I show up at an opportune moment with a wad of cash saved some time back. But I’ve never been able to wax poetic over Daylight Saving Time. Though I have waxed my legs for Daylight Saving Time since people have more opportunities in the warm evening hours to espy my hairy shins, I can’t dig up the necessary volume of poetry to champion the worst holiday of the year.
I have become what I call a “nonexpert” on the ins and outs of DST. This means I know some things about it and offer my limited information free of charge to my immediate community. So here goes: There are numerous reasons why humans have, over the previous couple of centuries, wanted to fuck with our clocks. One gentleman, some 127 years ago, proposed a two-hour shift in the warmer part of the year to allow him (and his fellow scientists) more time to collect insects for their research. That suggestion didn’t fly since nobody cared about his damn bugs. More rational purposes emerged for shifting the clock an hour such as saving fuel in the evening hours, allowing farmers more time during the day to do their important work, permitting 9 to 5 workers some outdoor hours after dinner, reducing the crime rate and lessening the occurrence of traffic accidents.
All of these arguments in favor of shifting the clock have been disputed and proven to be untrue, yet we as a society have clung to this stupid idea for over 100 years. Why? Other than that bug guy, not one of the intended purposes has any merit whatsoever. Still, 70 countries participate in The Great Disruption because we are human beings and cling to familiarity, status quo and general capitulation. We also have bigger fish to fry, more important matters to discuss and a whole lot of areas where we’d rather spend our limited personal energy. I, on the other hand, bring this topic forward once or twice a year in the hopes of bringing this issue to the forefront if only for that first week after the time change when people are really grouchy and may be more inclined to lend their voices to the cause.
So here is my Kill DST Manifesto (not to be confused with my Pockets for Women Manifesto). The amount of sunlight one gets per day is determined by where you live on the planet. Some places get more sunlight per day, some less. Within the US (maybe excluding Alaska) the differences are negligible (sorry Maine, so northern, so eastern). But wherever you live, changing the clock WILL NOT give you more daylight. Only your proximity to the sun can do that. So, in the summer months, the ones in which we supposedly save daylight, the amount of daylight we get is already the longest amount we enjoy throughout the year. So, what do we gain by pushing the hour forward to make that length of daylight extend more into the evening? You may answer in the Comments section of this blog post. Be prepared for my arguments.
There are a few states that do not have Daylight Saving Time. For instance, I hear no pitiful wailing from farmers (we could have worked an hour longer) or wistful tears from drunk drivers (gee, I wouldn’t have had that last drink if the sun had still been up) coming from the state of Arizona. Life goes on there as usual on that Sunday in March while the rest of us time-change victims are bleary eyed and confused because our sleep schedules and work or worship hours are somewhat off balance. We get exactly one day to adjust before the Monday morning alarm nudges us out of bed and we, dazed and disarrayed, must go forth to do whatever we must do. Sunday was that day. You essentially had to get up an hour early.
Studies by the National Institute of Health (NIH.gov) have determined that we all have trouble adjusting our sleep habits the week after the time change. However, NIH reports early risers adjust more quickly than night owls. People who stay up late suffer from jet lag-type symptoms and sleep deprivation for a longer period of time post shift. At some point things even out and we no longer feel the effects of fiddling with the clock. That’s about the time the evil keepers of the realm get their kicks by changing official time back to its original condition and we have to start all over again with the adjusting and the whining. We have two options: Stop DST or construct a better plan the week before the time change and follow through to lessen our difficulties with change.
Here’s how a spring pre time-change schedule might work. One week before DST, start going to bed 10 minutes earlier and getting up 10 minutes earlier. Deduct 10 minutes more each day as the day of reckoning approaches. By the time the clocks shift, you will have already gone through the change slowly with little to no effects to your good-naturedness. Or, you will have been driven mad by trying to figure out what time you should be tucking in each night and having to change your alarm clock (or phone alarm) to a different am waking time each day and finally throwing in the towel because it would be easier to change your clock once and live with the consequences of a sudden time shift rather than figure out for six nights how to change your alarm to the appropriate wake time. Bad enough having to fiddle with the damn thing twice a year. Obviously, this plan has a compliance issue.
This leaves us with the violent slaughtering of Daylight Saving Time. I feel certain there is a lot of non-partisan support for the measure. Yet, no one seems to have come up with an idea for accomplishing the deed. Should we have meetings to determine what needs to be done and who will be doing it? Shall we march in the streets in April after we have had some time to adjust to our new sleep hours? Might we write our legislators, start a Facebook page, initiate crowd funding or print out a slew of bumper stickers? Maybe we should get into our vehicles and drive in a circle around Washington DC, making known our grievances with sleep adjustment in a way that clogs traffic and uses up our expensive gasoline resources. I know our govern-meant has a lot on the national plate, but releasing the citizens of our country from this outdated demon practice might bring us all together in a way no other issue can.
I foresee no forward momentum on this cause once we have gotten past the adjustment phase of changing the clocks. I’m still fribbling away with the timepiece on my oven. The car clock will have to be whatever—it’s too high-tech for me to conquer. After this week, people will no longer be bothered by it. Until November 6. But then we gain an hour, so enthusiasm may be less vehement even if we have to go to bed late. The holiday of the hours goes on, blessing or curse, whether we welcome it or not. Next year my friends, next year.
Committed to Standard Time,