How can one measly hour totally crap up my week? Seriously, I can’t get out of bed in the dark. I can’t go to sleep at night. I’m out of sorts during the day.
Damn Daylight Saving Time!
Since the time change last Sunday, I’ve been out of whack. Combine that hour loss with dark, dreary winter-like Austin weather and days of indoor, artificial conference lighting (hello SXSW!), and my body has rebelled. So I find myself asking–have we had enough?
Brief History of Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Saving Time has been around almost my entire lifetime. Congress adopted what the US practices now (six months standard time, six months DST) in 1966. This wasn’t the first go round, though, just the clock modification that stuck.
The US first adopted the practice in 1918. We were following Europe’s lead, which had begun changing clocks during World War I. Prior to 1918, Americans had had a local approach to time keeping, but that changed when railroads emerged and established time zones–think about it; suddenly, cities are connected via industrialized commerce and rapid transportation. Schedules required adopting some sort of standardization. But farmers hated the time change, so it was repealed in 1919. From 1919 until 1966, we rested.
Since 1966, however, that “spring forward, fall back” adjustment has been wreaking havoc with circadian rhythms and appointments everywhere. Have we had enough? Is it time to ditch Daylight Saving Time?
Telling Time Without DST
Believe it or not, there’s talk about getting rid of DST. If you’re so inclined, you can sign a petition to repeal the at (if you check the end of this article, you’ll find a link).
There are two tracks of thought about how to accomplish this. Well, perhaps three, but I like to group them as “bigger picture” versus “small scope.”
Standardization in Time
A nation-wide change addresses the big picture. The folks at standardtime.com suggest a simple two-time zone solution that would eliminate DST in America. This would provide more standardization, cut time zone confusion, and maintain a mere two-hour difference between the east and west coasts. I like the sound of this.
Thinking even bigger, how about standardizing worldwide? Two scientists, astrophysicist Richard Conn Henry and economist Steve Hanke, believe the world should adopt Universal Time to eliminate all those pesky zones (24 different ones across the globe). Under UT, I’d be writing this post at 13:30, not 1:30 p.m., and everyone else in the world would be at 13:30, too. The big shift would be in what activities we associate with certain times, and that change would require a huge mental reordering. (Speaking of mental shifts, these guys have also proposed doing away with the Gregorian calendar and adopting, naturally, the Henry-Hanke calendar, which would standardize days. Every date would always fall on the same day. Consider the ramifications of that one for a hot minute….)
States Set Their Own Clocks
In my home state, Texas, a lawmaker has introduced House Bill 150 to do away with DST. Several other states have their own similar legislation on the subject. The question becomes, how the hell will any of us keep track of who’s doing what? Talk about a recipe for confusion:
“Hey, not only does the US have Atlantic, Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Alaskan, Hawaiian, and Samoan time zones, let’s throw in a new variable–which states opt to follow DST. C’mon; scheduling will be fun!”
I get that Texas lawmakers are all about state’s rights (when it suits them) and there’s a huge streak of plain ol’ orneriness in the Texas legislature (secede!), but individuality in time measurement just doesn’t make sense. A few things warrant some type of comprehensive country-wide agreement, and I’d say how America measures time is one of them.
Fixing My Inner Clock with Sunlight
I’ve written on circadian rhythms and sleep before (“Sleeping Your Weight to Weight Loss”), so I understand the role light plays in hormones. In an effort to reduce my DST system disruption, I’ve made a point to get outside and soak up some rays these last few days. That earlier combination of artificial light, bleak days, and a whole lot of computer screen time would throw a monkey wrench into my system without DST, so clearly a reset is in order. Thankfully, my schedule and Austin’s weather have cooperated.
Yard work–now that’s a strategy for living with DST I can embrace. And I can’t wait to enjoy summer’s longer, sunshine-filled days . . . no matter what time they occur.
More about Daylight Savings Time
“As Daylight Saving Starts, Some Ask: Why Fall Back At All?” by Jess Bidgood, The New York Times
“One Time Zone for the World?” by Cassandra Willyard, Smithsonian Magazine
How To Translate UTC to Your Time (also known as Coordinated Universal Time, kept by atomic clocks)
“A Bunch of States What to Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time. Is Your State One of Them?” by Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post