Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Why Daylight Savings Time Is So Difficult
All this week, my litany has been the same. I'm in the middle of something, look at the clock -- either on the mantel or the dashboard of the car, and exclaim, "Holy ##$#! It's ___ o'clock already?"
This exclamation only varies slightly with the variance of whatever is holy ("cow" if it's just a mild exclamation, a word for "cow dung" if it's something important), and of course filling in whatever time it happens to be.
But the feeling is the same, nonetheless. It feels like I've lost an hour somewhere and am always running behind, trying to catch it.
Now that I work outdoors a lot, if I'm out in the pasture, I don't even get the luxury of seeing a clock, since we have no cell reception on that part of the property and I hate wearing a watch. I just come inside and find it's an hour later than I thought it was.
For years I raged against this particular machine, because although Daylight Savings Time was actually invented as a way to give farmers longer hours in the fields, I don't know a single farmer who likes it. That's because most farmers are familiar (even on an unconscious level) with using the sun to determine what time it is. The 3 p.m. sun, for instance, looks different than the 2 p.m. sun, and without even looking at your watch or phone, you pretty much know how much more time you have before you need to put your equipment away and head for the house.
But urbanites love Daylight Savings Time, because when they emerge from their offices and cubicles, they still have plenty of daylight left to enjoy. And I get that. But the fact is that changing the times twice a year accounts for more confusion, lost sleep, and missed appointments than the "extra hour" is worth. Besides, if we just stayed on Daylight Savings Time year 'round, we could get all of the daylight without all the pain.
I've decided that it isn't the time that's the issue, it's the fact that we change the time twice a year that is the problem.
Our bodies are wise enough to internally calculate the time based on where the sun is, and when we monkey with that, we're in trouble. Especially since we live in a culture relatively obsessed with time. You can't show up for a 11a.m. meeting at either 10 a.m. or noon. 11 means 11. But with a changing clock, our bodies can't be relied on to tell us when we're getting close.
And so, for the next couple of weeks, we will feel confused, out of sorts and a little behind as our brains struggle to adapt to what we've done to the sun/clock relationship.
But I'm sure Starbucks will make plenty of money off the tired souls loading up on java to compensate for their "time lag." They are the only ones who will probably see good from all this change.
The rest of us just have to console ourselves with that extra hour of afternoon light, stolen from one hour ago.