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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Daylight Savings Time—Exactly What Are We Saving?

Maybe you’re different from me. Maybe you like Daylight Savings Time. I dislike it intensely. The only part I do like is when it ends and I get that extra hour of sleep back that I lost. My father calls standard time “God’s time,” and I understand why.

Some facts you might not know. One hundred and thirty-one countries do not observe Daylight Savings Time, such as Canada (with the exception of Montreal). Of the countries who do observe it, there is no official day that all countries use; the start date ranges from March 8th to April 24th. Most countries who observe it, start on a Sunday with the exception of several middle eastern countries which start on Friday. Not all of the United States participates. Let’s all move to Arizona and Hawaii! It was originally adopted by some European countries in 1916. Ben Franklin suggested the idea in 1784. Some people claim that driving accidents have been reduced. I suspect whatever gains were initially made in that department have been diminished completely by the vast number of people who drive while talking on cell phones. During WWII, between February 9, 1942 and September 30, 1945, daylight savings time was constant and called “war time.” Some countries call it “summer time.” I prefer to call it “Pain in my Patoot Time.”

Does Daylight Savings Time improve our physical health?
No. Some studies even indicate that we’re more likely to have a heart attack during the transition phase as our internal clocks try to cope. Children are sleepy in school during the transition phase as well which means they won’t learn as much. Note that the time switches occur during the school year—not during breaks. Adults are sleepy at work which cuts productivity.

Does Daylight Savings Time improve our mental health?
No. A study by the Japanese indicated that suicide rates actually increased during transition. I would like to add an increase in crankiness of the general public to the argument, which I have observed in myself and others (Yes, I realize my observation isn’t scientific). Some will argue that the increased leisure time we gain attributes to better mental health. However, if the sun is still shining when most people get home, they won’t see it as an opportunity to do something leisurely like sit outside and read a book. No, they’ll see that they need to mow the lawn, weed the yard, sweep the driveway, clean the gutters that pine seedlings are sprouting in. That leads to an increase in stress. Many people even end up working longer hours because the sun is still up.

Does Daylight Savings Time save our planet?
I highly doubt it. Bigger inroads can be made by simply switching to fluorescent bulbs. And the argument that having an extra daylight hour means kids will have more time to play outside, thereby saving energy, are under the misconception that children still play outside. Maybe they don’t know that the majority of American children, those who aren’t super busy with extra curricular activities, prefer firing up the television, computer, and the game station to riding bicycles—all of which require electricity, which then uses more power and saves us nothing.
Is Daylight Savings Time worth the discombobulation to the population? Is it worth the aggravation of changing our VCR’s, TV’s, microwaves, ovens, clocks, car clocks, digital thermostats twice a year? I think not. For the record, I also dislike having to change the time on all those items after the electricity cuts out during thunder storms.

How about you? Are you on the Daylight Savings Time bandwagon? If so, why? Or do you think DST was devised in an era much different from the realities of twenty-first century life and no longer makes sense?



At 9:16 AM, Blogger Christine said...

The only reason we like DST is we are the eastern edge the the Central Time Zone making the nights very long. I live for my vitamin D! We actually celebrate the extra hour of light in the afternoon. But it is hard to adjust--I'm always very tired the first few days.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, Mo. Almost all of Canada uses Daylight Savings Time. I think the province of Saskatchewan is the only exception. They stay on standard time all year.

I'm like Christine - I love shifting an hour of daylight from morning to evening.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Add Indiana to the list of states not observing DST, unless they've changed that recently. Used to throw me off back when I lived in Cincinnati.

This year, I was totally unconscious about the change so I did nothing. Felt great Sunday. Realized what happened when it became apparent the clocks weren't quite right. No biggie. Okay on Monday. But now Tuesday, I overslept because my brain kept telling me it was just too dark to be time for me to get up. Wound up rushing through the whole day.

Sucked. I'm all for whatever time we're on now so that we can have extra sunlight at the end of the day.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger M. said...

Wow. If Canadians don't use DST, then someone owes me big for those extra hours of lost sleep this week!

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Mel Hiers said...

Patricia, they have changed it. It's only been a couple of years, though. My parents still live there, and they hate it! :-P

As far as I know, Arizona's the only U.S. holdout.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Indiana does now observe DST; that change happened in the last few years. DST was increased by several weeks, last year, with the idea that people would not be home during high power usage. For example, home appliances (including the power hungry A/C) would not be in high demand during high power times, the early part of the day. Home usage would then occur during lower power times. It looks convincing on paper, but my common sense says someone is simply trying to justify their job. :-)

In Arizona, the Navajo Reservation observes DST. Personally, I love not having to worry about changing clocks. However, I really hate trying to remember what the time difference is between my friends and me. Is it 1, 2, or 3 hours, or are we now on the same time, like I am now with my friends in California.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I just read a funny strip in the editorial page: guy was springing his clock forward continually until June to get past these few unsavory months of cold and upheaval.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

See, I knew there had to be a good reason--vitamin D. :)

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Lee and anonymous Canadian,
Thanks for correcting me. My research was faulty. Now, do Canadians use the same start date we do--2nd Sunday in March?

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I've had that happen before--not changed my clock and ended up at church at the wrong time!

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Tori Lennox said...

I hate Daylight Saving Time. It has to be the worst idea Ben Franklin ever had. I really miss living in Arizona where we didn't have to deal with it.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Daylight Saving Time. I love that it is light in the evening. It makes me happy right away.

If it were me, I'd keep DST all year round!!!!

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I'm with you Patricia, let's stick with whatever time zone were on now and stay with it forever! I don't like going back and forth. It takes me a week to adjust no matter which way the clocks are changed.

Christine, LOL on the comic strip!

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is very interesting information. Thanks for sharing. I hate the abrupt change, it truly does throw everything off.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I don't mind daylight or standard savings time. What I do RESENT is the changing back and forth! Pick one and stick with it!! I have read all of those studies and I KNOW it is not good for our sleep patterns to be disturbed. My schedule is set at Wal-Mart and I work 10 to 7 every day. It is not a great shift, but it is consistent and I like that. However, people not in management can have their schedule shifted about at the drop of a hat. They can work 8 to 5 one day and 4 to 1 the next. They can work 2 to 11 and have to come in 4 to 1 the next. What nobody in the home office seems to realize is that sleep-deprived employees are USELESS!

Another advantage to add to the list of reasons I would love to be able to support myself with my writing. I would still work at least 8 hours a day, but it would be the 8 hours I KNOW I can be most productive instead of just those hours I can squeeze in around my day job!

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Merrillee said...

I love daylight savings time. I'm not fond of the lost hour of sleep, but I so enjoy having more daylight in the evenings--just right for a walk or bike ride after supper.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Yes, Mo, Canada changes to DST and back again on the same dates as the US. There's a huge amount of cross-border commerce, so it's less confusing if everyone switches at the same time.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I hate, hate, hate DST. Always have. So do my cats, who get o confused, not knowing what time to wake us up, and feeling guilty when we get up before them because they didn't do their jobs.


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