It’s hard to believe that more than week after setting our clocks back, I’m still feeling drained and tired trying to get used to the transition from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard time.
A co-worker and I found ourselves discussing this and I started asking the question of whether or not this convoluted time management shenanigans actually does anyone any good.
Proponents of DST argue that the change in the clocks does good for people because A) it allows them to get more hours of sunlight during the summer and B) it conserves energy by having people up and about during those sunlit hours instead of running artificial light.
First off all, changing the clock doesn’t actually change the number of hours of sunlight (You mean we don’t have mutant powers that let us alter the physics of our planet and the sun? Say it ain’t so!), it just tricks you into waking up at a different point in the day where the sun is more prominent in the sky.
Still, the idea of making people get some healthy sunshine is a noble cause… or it would be if some places didn’t already get tons more of the stuff than others. It’s unsurprising then that many places closer to the Equator refuse to recognize DST. Even within our own country, Arizona and Hawaii don’t move the clocks forward in May because they have sunny beach weather nearly year-round.
As for the argument of energy conservation, this may have worked in the past, but now modern advances in technology are reducing that benefit if not removing it entirely. We still run air conditioners and electric fans in the summer which use much more energy than even the most primitive tungsten light bulbs.
Also, where light bulbs are becoming more energy efficient thanks to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), what little advantage DST gave us in conserving energy is becoming minimal at best.
But, the real concern here is how DST complicates things. For starters, regularly changing the clock interrupts natural sleeping habits and can lead to sleep-deprivation related illnesses which are already a big problem in the U.S.
Also, in a world of increasing reliance on global telecommunications, the combination of differing time zones and DST rules makes it difficult for people working in different countries to coordinate with one another. Because not all places follow DST and those who do change their clocks at different times, the number of hours ahead or behind one location is from another is in a near constant flux.
And as if that wasn’t an already ridiculous example of failing to pin down the flow of time, because Arizona is also home to the Hopi and Navajo Reservations and since the Navajo Reservation recognizes DST while the Hopi Reservation doesn’t, it’s actually possible to be forced go through seven clock changes just by traveling in one 100-mile straight line.
So, when it comes time to set the clocks forward again, I’m sure we’ll have this debate again. But, hopefully one day we can agree to a universal measure of time that will fix this mess. In the meantime, I’m just going to try get back on a regular schedule.