By now it’s safe to say that I have survived the first few weeks of not only “social distancing” but Daylight Savings Time. When I say “survive,” I mean I haven’t missed any meetings, real or virtual, thanks to my alarm clock, but my attitude has been less than perky because I start my day off tired. Frankly, I don’t care how much daylight we have in the evening, I resent this interruption of my circadian rhythm. To make it work, you have to adjust your bedtime schedule, and by the time that is accomplished, it’s time to “fall back.”
According to WebMD, light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. Other sources say that messing with our circadian rhythm can “cause disturbances in sleep, metabolism, mood, bodily functions and productivity.” On a scale of one to 10, with one being merely cranky, could those disturbances combined with the summer heat and longer daylight hours fuel the fights and violence that seem to rise during the summer?
I admit that when my kids played Little League it was nice to have daylight longer but when I’ve tried to take advantage of it as an evening walker, the mosquitos discouraged me. (Pardon the corona humor, but do you think a roll of toilet paper, bottled water and hand-sanitizer might keep the mosquitos away?)
I never bought into the economics of DST either. Maybe there are industries or crafts that take advantage of longer daylight but that hasn’t been my experience. I remember hearing how construction workers could work later, etc., but I guess that didn’t include painters. When we purchased property in Bedias, my husband and I contracted for some remodeling which included painting. I thought that with the longer daylight, these guys would knock this out in no time. Boy was I wrong!
The crew arrived at 10 a.m., broke for lunch at noon and by 2 p.m. all we saw was the dust of our county road behind them. This is June, July and August and I realize those are hot months but when you’re painting inside what difference does it make whether it’s dark or light outside? Let’s face it, it’s not economically necessary to have DST, it’s a social thing and if it’s a social thing, why are we messing with people’s circadian rhythm for someone else to party-on?
This desire to manipulate time has been going on since the 1700s. Adolph Hitler’s Germany was the first country to officially embrace DST – that should be cause for pause! Closer to home, we have President Lyndon B. Johnson to blame/thank depending on your point of view, who signed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, and contrary to public perception, agriculture was against the change. Their work was driven by the sun and DST disrupted everything from cutting hay to milking cows. The change was driven by urban interests. As for ‘saving’ anything, 54 years after the stroke of LBJ’s pen, economists say any ‘savings’ has been offset by increased use of vehicles and air-conditioning during the later daylight hours.
While there are limits to things I think should exist in their natural state, for example my hair color or living in Texas without air-conditioning, I’m all for scrapping this time change to get back to living life in “real time.”
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.