Time Changes Need to Change in These Changing Times

Featured image: Image by Vera Prokhorova on Shutterstock.

 
 

4 for Now

First, let’s kill the myth that these ridiculous time changes serve farmers, and that we continue the tradition of Daylight Savings Time (DST) in honor of those who feed us.

Also, Ben Franklin didn’t come up with the idea. He merely joked about “getting people out of bed earlier in the morning” in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris.

The idea of changing clocks twice a year originated in 1895 with New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson, but the idea didn’t catch on. British builder William Willett’s “Summer Time” plan caught attention, but couldn’t pass Parliament.

Some Canadian towns started using DST as early as 1908, but it didn’t really catch on until Germany started using it in 1916. Two years into World War I, the idea was to save fuel for the war by using less artificial lighting at home. Other countries followed suit, but most reverted to standard time when the war ended.

In the US, FDR reinstated DST during World War II and states continued using it even after the war. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act standardized DST throughout the US.

Hawaii, most of Arizona, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa do not use DST. Neither do China, Japan, and many other countries. I continue to wonder (as I do twice a year, every year) why the rest of us continue with such a barbaric practice.

Consequences of Time Changes

If you’d like the scientific jargon, there’s a study, Measurable health effects associated with the daylight saving time shift, showing the elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases, injuries, behavioral disorders, and immune diseases that result from messing with our circadian rhythms and sleep schedules.

Other effects of DST include:

  • It can increase our appetite and throw off our meal schedule.
  • One study found that our bodies never adjust to DST. Rather, the change reduces our sleep by 19 minutes per night until standard time is restored. Which ties into …
  • Sleep deprivation (which most people notice for about a week after the time change) causes memory issues, difficulty with social interactions, and reduced learning capacity.
  • It messes with your kids: bedtime for little ones will be difficult in the spring, because they won’t be ready for bed, and in the fall, because they may be overtired by bedtime. For teens, they feel the effects more because they need more sleep than adults.

Why arguments for DST don’t work:

Federal law doesn’t force the time changes onto states, so why are we still at it? 71% of [US] Americans want a permanent time solution (versus 28% who want to keep changing the clocks). Let us sleep, connect with our bodies’ natural rhythms, and allow us to focus on real problems. (Like ending white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.)

 

4 for Later

  1. See if someone in your state has submitted legislation on the topic (beware: some of the legislation is for permanent DST (spring-forward time) while some is for permanent standard time (fall-back time). Make sure you know which one you want before throwing your support in. On this page at NCSL.org, check the “State Legislation” dropdown at the bottom of the page to see what bills are in play.
  2. If your state doesn’t have active/pending legislation, you can still write, email, call, or text your representatives. Let them know where you stand and what you want to see happen. Get your friends and family to join you. Start your own petition, if you want. (I tried looking for current ones, some are hard to tell. This petition is from 2020, this one and this one from 2021, and I’m not sure when this one is from but it’s worth a shot, right?) Write to your local or state newspaper (they often publish opinion pieces from anyone willing to share their opinions).
  3. Personally, I wanted to stop observing DST for myself, originally planning on not springing forward this year. But that would mean having to add an hour to everything, and I really hate math and doing more work than I need to. But I put it out there as an option, in case your pettiness is stronger than mine. (/Positive.)
  4. For those of us submitting ouselves to the struggle yet again, here are some tips from a wonderfully talented and knowledgeable pediatric sleep consultant for springing forward. She also has one to bookmark for fall. [Full disclosure: This amazing person is my sister. She did not pay me—or even ask me—to do this.]