“Rise and shine! Time to get up!”
“But why, Daddy? It’s still dark out.”
That was the exchange which started my day. It’s a good question, why should we have to get up when it’s still dark? That goes against our instincts. It’s in our nature to sleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light. Why on Earth would we go against our nature?
The answer, of course, is Daylight Savings Time.
Some people like Daylight Savings Time. They like the fact that it stays light later. But that isn’t a good thing. Anyone who has ever tried to put a kid to bed in broad daylight can tell you that. So can anyone who has to be up early for work. Some dark is good for us at the end of the day when we’re trying to wind down. All the light makes it harder to relax.
The early arguments for Daylight Savings Time had to do with saving energy. That has always seemed strange to me. We don’t turn on fewer lights because it stays light later. We just turn the lights on when it’s dark in the morning instead. And the studies that have been done are inconclusive at best. In other words, the original reason for daylight savings is a lousy reason.
Even the phrase “daylight savings” is absurd. We don’t save any daylight. We just offset it. Today we had 10 hours of daylight. That would have been the same if it were standard time. The difference is that sunrise would have been at 6:24 a.m. in standard time instead of the 7:24 a.m. we had today. That would have been so much nicer.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were on standard time by this time of year. The government extended daylight savings time in 2005. Under the new rules, Halloween happens during Daylight Savings Time, and that’s a travesty. If there’s one night a year when everyone can agree that it’s better if it gets dark early, it is Halloween. Daylight savings time takes away some of the magic of childhood.
The time changes themselves are miserable. We are creatures of habit after all. It’s hard to adjust. It makes people cranky. It makes routine activities like driving more dangerous. Anyone with pets or children has had to deal with someone being hungry at the wrong time. It’s terrible.
The funny thing is, daylight savings time only makes a real difference in the few weeks right around the time changes. In the dead of winter, it’s just dark. We only get about 9 hours of daylight around the winter solstice. That means it’s dark when we wake up and it’s dark when we get home regardless of where our clocks are set. And in the heat of summer, it’s just light. We get about 15 hours of daylight around the summer solstice. That means it’s light before we wake up and light at bedtime, again, regardless of where our clocks are set.
In those weeks where daylight savings makes a difference, people might think it’s just a matter of personal preference, but standard time is better. In those weeks, standard time is more in sync with the sun. It is easier to wake up in the morning and easier to go to sleep at night. It’s easier on our kids and their teachers. It’s easier on our pets. Where it makes a difference, standard time is just easier.
Everyone hates the time changes, so I think we can all agree that we should only have one time regime. Switching it up hurts everyone. So, give a thought to the morning people of the world. And those who have to be at work early. And those with pets. And the parents. And the teachers.
And somebody, please, think of the children and switch to year round standard time.
Gene Glotzer lives in Newington and blogs at Nutmegger Daily.