Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Saving daylight

We switched over to daylight saving time (DST) this past weekend and even though the time change was only an hour, I'm having trouble adjusting to the time change. I'd been getting up at around 9 or 9:30am before this weekend and so far I've been struggling to get up by 10:30am.

This morning I had a dream where I could hear something that sounded like an alarm. I said to someone else that I only heard that sound when I was dreaming and my alarm went off, but I wasn't dreaming. And then I stopped and checked to see if I was dreaming and I concluded that I was definitely not dreaming. Well, of course I was dreaming: my alarm had been going off for about a half hour or so.

I don't even fully understand why we do this time change each year. I did some research and one reason they did it was so that people could take advantage of more daylight hours in the evenings and because someone thought that crime would go down. The thinking was that most crime happens at night - is that really true? I don't know. It may have been true back in the day but I don't know if it's true now. Also, what happens to those people who like the morning and not the evening light?

It was thought that traffic accidents would decline during DST because drivers wouldn't be driving in the dark as much. I don't know if that's still true once the accidents following the time change are taken into account. And what about the costs associated with changing the clocks? Our dependence on technology and computers has increased those costs dramatically over what they would have been when DST had first been introduced.

I don't know if the original thinking behind DST is still valid, which makes me question why we don't just abolish it. I did some research and apparently one reason it's kept is that DST saves energy since people need less power in the evenings. Of course that rationale was put forth in the days before air conditioners so I don't know if it's still true. I read that in one city in Indiana where DST had recently been adopted, no energy savings were found but people say that this city doesn't properly represent the rest of the US (or Canada, I suppose).

I did some digging, and I found that the main reason for keeping it is so that kids don't go to school in the dark in the winter. I went to school in the dark, but I also walked a few blocks to school on my own, and we're living in an era where kids don't have that kind of freedom. Some have proposed doing "double DST", or keeping the clocks in DST all year and then putting the clocks forward another hour in the spring. I would call that a "time zone change" myself, and I don't know how practical that would be.

To me, DST creates an artificial state that causes at least as many issues as it solves and I'd love to see it abolished. I'm willing to consider other options, like having fewer time zones across the country, if it meant that we didn't have to change the clocks ever. Maybe I'm just being cranky because I'm not sleeping enough because of DST.

1 comment:

Robin said...

I don't like DST either, I think it's more difficult on people's sleep patterns than it's worth. There is no value for it now and I think the only reason it's kept is because it's too difficult to get rid of. At least it's shorter now.