As everyone knows (or hopefully does!) we moved our clocks ahead an hour early Sunday morning and are now in “Daylight Savings Time”. Here we will remain for the next eight months, two-thirds of our year, until we move the clocks back an hour on the first weekend in November.
Over the years I’ve heard a myriad of explanations as to why we do this. Yes the earth’s rotation brings more daylight into our spring and summer hours. But depending on who you talk to, everything from farmers’ schedules to Benjamin Franklin are responsible for us waking up in a haze at this time each year. The best explanation I’ve heard comes from agriculture who claims the practice was to allow farmers to have extra daylight to work in their fields during the peak growing season. That would make sense to move the clocks back in the fall when the colder weather wouldn’t allow for this in earlier days. Another explanation given for moving the clocks ahead an hour was to save on candles in the early 20th century. More daylight means less flame time for the waxy friends of those days and people could save money on “light”.
As everything else around us changes, I think we should consider the idea of daylight savings time in a modern context and is it really necessary for us as a society to go through this time change twice in a four-month period? I think not and here’s why…
1) The agriculture industry no longer needs it.
Today’s modern machines allow for much greater amounts of work to be done today than 100 years ago. Along with that, much of the machinery comes with lighting attached so a farmer could work in twilight is he or she chooses to do so. I believe the context for why this practice began nearly 100 years is no longer relevant and should be dismissed.
2) Energy savings is negligible. Perhaps there is some truth to the “candle” theory I discussed earlier but the reality is that energy savings by moving your clocks ahead isn’t a factor. Ask the residents in Arizona who do not participate in the time change why and they will tell you that as hot as it is there, an extra hour of daylight for them would increase their energy bill.
3) Our bio-rhythms don’t need the stress. Our bodies have natural points for maximum achievement in several areas. In their excellent book, “The Power of Full Engagement”, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz highlight this as the basis for maximum productivity in our lives. For me, my “peak” productivity time is early morning while my secondary time is late afternoon. This tends to be when I’m thinking my clearest and have maximum energy for important tasks. I try to schedule more mundane and routine activities around these peak times so I can get more done and not feel stressed. When you go switching times back and forth, your peak times now run 60 minutes earlier or later depending on the time of year and your rhythm is off. Many people do not think about this and wonder why they are constantly feeling drained. Throw in a time change, and it’s magnified exponentially. Our bodies simply do not need the stress.
So what should we do? My suggestion is to stick with Daylight Savings Time throughout the year. We already have it with us for eight months so what is adding the other four going to hurt? As the earth moves farther from the sun in the fall and winter seasons, we will naturally see the days shorten without moving the clocks back an hour in November. I think a majority of Americans would tell you that the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day makes more sense than at the beginning. Even morning folks like myself don’t mind waking up in the dark for an extra hour if it gives my kids a chance to be out in light for an extra hour of exercise and fun with their friends. It just makes sense to me to keep life the way it is now. Yea, the extra hour of sleep is nice on a cold November morning but we pay for it in March with our bodies having to adjust again so quickly.
What do you think? Comment and let me know.