Is daylight saving really necessary? It’s the question I ask every year, measuring time is just an arbitrary decision to make things like catching trains more simple, so what exactly is the point of turning our clocks forward one hour? To me it’s always felt a bit like cutting off one side of a blanket and sewing it to the other to make it longer. It actually doesn’t give us any more hours of sunlight: that’s simply caused by the natural tilting of the earth which gives us summer.
It’s been more than two weeks since daylight saving has come in and I still feel a bit like I’ve just come back from a non-stop trip around the world. I don’t know which way is up let alone what on earth the time is supposed to be. Granted there are a couple of other things that have contributed to my false jet-lag, house sitting, the hot weather and a big job interview, but that doesn’t account for why I feel like this during daylight savings every year.
It has seriously affected my productivity, in fact, if I’m honest I have been meaning to write this since that first Sunday, when I woke up at 8 AM but it was actually 9 AM but every time I tried, I was just too plum worn out to string a proper sentence together. Many people probably just think that it’s because I’m lazy, or over dramatic about one lost hour of sleep, but honestly daylight savings makes me feel like I’ve been run over by a truck, and I don’t really ‘get over it’ like normal people seem to.
My theory is that I’m already a night owl who finds it exhausting trying to keep socially acceptable hours. Most experts tend to just tell you to go to bed earlier and you’ll be fine, but that is much easier said than done. If I go to bed at 10:30 PM (standard time) it might take me between ten and thirty minutes to fall asleep. If I go to bed at 9:30 PM (standard time) it will take me thirty minutes to an hour. Most people would posit that I just need to go to bed at 9:30 every night and it will become my new standard bed time, I just need to condition myself to being a morning person. Unfortunately, I have tried this, I went to bed at 9:30 every night for a year while I had to be at work at 8:30 AM and nothing changed. I was still spending nearly an hour in bed every night with all the lights off and my eyes closed wishing I had been born a morning person. So what does daylight saving do to me? Give me an extra hour of daylight after work to do outdoor activities? No, it drags me another hour out of sync with everyone else and leaves me feeling jet lagged. So now, for six months of the year I spend most evenings thinking, ‘maybe I should think about going to bed, what’s the time? 11:30 PM!? Maybe I should have thought about that an hour ago!’
An extra kick in the guts daylight saving gives me is that because the sun sets later it doesn’t cool down until later. The ambient temperature of my bedroom has a direct correlation on my ability to get to sleep and to sleep soundly. Anything above about 28 degrees Celsius and I might as well stay up all night watching horror movies for how rested I’ll feel in the morning. About the only solution to that would be air conditioning, but who can afford the energy bills of running one all night? Besides I thought one of the rationales for daylight saving was that it saved energy?
There are a few logical reasons for daylight saving, one of which is the saved energy by having one extra hour in the evening where electric lighting is not required. This probably made sense in a world where commuting wasn’t an issue. Now there are probably a lot of people turning lights on in the morning in October because daylight saving forces them to get up before sunrise. I don’t have any statistics to confirm, I just know that my entire household is up before 5:30 AM. Also that Sydney roads are rather congested by 7 AM, and I’d imagine most of those people must get up earlier than that to perform beauty and hygiene routines. That plus the extra hours of cooling most people would have to use in the evenings means that I remain firmly sceptical of the energy saving capabilities of daylight saving. There may be less energy used than winter, but that’s caused by the natural occurrence of more daylight, not by our practice of turning our clocks back one hour.
The other reason is increased time for evening outdoor activities, well I would argue that for every person who does an evening activity in the sunlight, there is a person who is forced to do their morning outdoor activity in the dark, or cease doing it altogether. As I have previously stated, my family are morning people, they do their exercise in the morning, and sometimes do less of it during times where they would be forced to do it in the dark.
Every year my family goes up to the Gold Coast to stay with my Grandma around Christmas. I find it much easier to participate in their morning activities because there is no daylight saving time. I rather enjoy taking a morning walk before breakfast with them, or going for a swim in an outdoor pool. Activities I would not participate in when I am in Sydney because my body clock is too far out of sync with theirs. Also activities I would not do in the afternoon because of the heat or increased risk of sun damage to my non-melanin protected pale skin.
I remember when daylight saving was shorter in New South Wales. How I cherished the month of October! I was attending high school, I had a bit of a commute, and during the month of October, I would arise in the daylight, arrive at school more alert. At the end of October daylight saving would come in and I’d go back to waking up in the dark, being tired and taking sneaky naps in class. Now that daylight saving comes in at the beginning of October in New South Wales, no one who commutes gets that wondrous month of reprieve. Early risers have to wait an extra two months before they no longer have to extricate themselves from their warm beds in the dark. I understand that it was done to bring Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales into line to avoid confusion, but there isn’t enough daylight in New South Wales to justify bringing it in that early.
I am aware that there are people who do enjoy daylight saving time. My Queensland residing Grandma does complain that in the middle of summer she wakes up at 4:30 AM because of the sun, but that only applies in summer, not spring or autumn when daylight savings is inflicted on the people who live in NSW. Maybe we could make a compromise and only have daylight saving time for the months of November, December and January, the three months around the summer solstice, when the days are actually long enough for the sun to be rising before 5 AM if we didn’t have daylight saving. Bringing it in only a couple of weeks after the southward equinox just seems illogical to me. One of the purposes is to help people naturally rise earlier with the sun, well I was naturally rising earlier with the sun as the days became longer, until the 6th of October when daylight saving came in and kicked the sun out from under me.
How do you cope with the loss of one hour every year? What’s your opinion of daylight saving? Do you think it would be more effective if it were for a shorter time?