“Daylight time, a monstrosity in timekeeping.” — Harry S. Truman
Remind me again why we have Daylight Saving Time?
No matter how others try to convince me otherwise — Now we can barbecue at 7 p.m.! Now we can garden! Now we can organize the backyard shed! — I find the time change to be an insult to both body and brain. It will take me all week to settle into a routine as my internal clock clings to its old setting.
I hate that it stays dark for so long in the morning.
I hate that 9 p.m. shocks me into panic because I miscalculated the time I need to complete evening chores.
I hate that I wake up groggy and remain that way for longer than is decent.
But it’s not just springing forward that robs me of precious sleep, confounds my dog and confuses my appetite. When we fall back in November, I suffer through an adjustment phase, too, waking up way too early and becoming as moody as a 14-year-old but without the energy. For the life of me I can’t understand why we play God with the clock, tampering with something that needs no fixing. I don’t know a single soul who is happy with the sudden time change, be it in spring or fall. It’s unnatural.
“How do you explain to a 5-year-old that she has to get up to go to school when it’s pitch dark outside her window?” one of my sons asked me.
Whether they’re first graders or high school seniors, getting children out of bed — or, for that matter, back in bed — is a challenge every time we arbitrarily, stupidly, ridiculously change the clock. This holds true for pets, by the way, and elderly parents and pretty much anything with a pulse.
We should stick to one form of time-keeping. It’s the only way our body clocks can adapt slowly and steadily to more (or less) daylight. The biannual switcheroo wreaks havoc with our circadian rhythm, yet it has been mandatory since 1966; proof that the law sometimes has nothing to do with common sense. In fact, studies have shown that the change in time increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Florida just passed a bill called the “Sunshine Protection Act” — as if we really need more sunshine — that asks Congress to allow my home state to stay on Daylight Saving Time year-round. We would join two others, Arizona and Hawaii, in marching to our own tick-tock, though I’ve read about some New England states that want to move into the Atlantic time zone, essentially turning the clocks an hour ahead permanently.
This has polarized my friends and family almost as much as the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, which is saying a lot. But people are quite particular about the best time to take in the sun, whether it’s most salubrious in the morning or in the evening. From the very beginning, when it started in 1918, ostensibly to save fuel during World War I, Daylight Saving Time has proven controversial, but this hasn’t stopped proponents from singing its praises.
For me, a morning person through and through, staying on Daylight Saving Time permanently is a horrible idea. Sunrise will come too late, children will board school buses in the dark, and we’ll be out of step with our neighbors for everything from TV shows to office hours to the celebration of the New Year. But it’s the lesser of the evils. We’ll do it once and be done with it — better one deep gash than a thousand paper cuts over the years.
Right now fiddling with the hour hand twice a year defies logic and biology. Besides, it makes us all cantankerous.