Monday, March 12, 2012

A plea for Daylight Saving Day

Over the weekend most of America subjected itself to the transition to the period of the year where we pretend it's an hour later than it really is.

It's called Daylight Saving Time, as everyone knows. Yesterday at 2 a.m. the time jumped forward to 3 a.m., leaving us with a day where the period from midnight to midnight was only 23 hours. In the autumn there'll be a 25-hour day as time gets put back on track ("Standard" Time).

Here's the thing: Of course the tilt of the earth's axis as it revolves around the sun makes the amount of daylight—the period between when the sun emerges above the eastern horizon and when it descends below the western horizon—be longer during the summer than in the winter all on its own; there's nothing about us changing the time on our clocks that affects the amount of actual sunlight available. It merely shifts some of the darkness from the evening to the morning, so that we have more sunlight in the evening hours.

I think it's supposed to help us save energy or something, but really what it does is force everyone to adjust their entire schedule—when they go to work, when they eat, when their favorite shows air, and most jarringly, when they sleep—whether they give a crap about having a longer stretch of illumination in the atmosphere from our nearest star in the evening or not. It doesn't allow those who'd rather maintain their routine to opt out. Those who like the daylight in the p.m. could choose to get up earlier and go to work earlier and get out of work earlier in order to achieve that, but that's not how it operates. And with all the devices we have that require electricity regardless of how light it is outside, how much energy is saved these days may be another story.

However, we go along with it because we have no choice. We adapt to the new schedule because we must. Thus it seems like it would be good of the government that imposes this upon us to give us a holiday to ease the transition.

To expect people can adjust that dramatically in under a day is unrealistic. Despite the change occurring over a weekend, its effects aren't really felt until the day after, which is a Monday—typically when most people go to work. (The people who work on the weekend are screwed either way, and although I am sympathetic to their situation—as for many years I was in that boat—they don't really factor into this argument.)

That is the time when people should be granted a national holiday, to give everyone a chance to better adapt. Now, one might argue that most people would blow it and sleep in, gaining no advantage and merely postponing the shock of the hour change until Tuesday morning, and undoubtedly that would be true of some. However, that would be their choice.

I certainly like to think that we should have the option to transition over the course of two days rather than merely one, where we could use the course of Sunday and Monday to practice going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and so on. It would at least facilitate the illusion of being the land of the free a bit better.

For people who do need to work those days, their shifts should be transitioned as well. (See, there's something for them.)

If nothing else, giving everyone an extra day off would mitigate the extent to which we all spend thinking while at work, It doesn't feel this late.

We'd have the chance to think that at home.

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