Is Daylight Saving Time Really Necessary?

daylight saving time
How I feel when daylight saving hits
daylight saving time

How I feel when daylight saving hits

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?

daylightThere 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?

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    Yes, definitely – Daylight savings is essential – especially the further south you are – I remember living in Hobart – without daylight savings, the sun would rise about 4 am in summer… that’s not a good thing…

    And, remember – if we didn’t have daylight savings in Sydney, in the middle of summer, the sun would rise around 5am… we’d all be awake way too early…

    I actually think the current timing is perfect for the southern states, including NSW – I can understand why it’s not required for the northern states… the difference between summer/winter sunrise is much smaller up there…

    • Jessica Chapman

      Out of curiosity how long is your commute? My theory is that those who live quite close to their work places are the ones that like daylight savings. (Also possibly people who don’t take over an hour to get socially presentable for the day). The current timing is probably better for Tassie than it is for Victoria/ NSW. Currently sunrise in Sydney is at about 6 o clock, but that is the butt-crack of dawn and not actually very light, particularly if you live in a built up area with your house shaded by other things.

      I suppose my problem with the whole thing is that because of my body clock I don’t naturally wake up with the sunrise, I naturally wake up and hour or two afterwards (that’s why I try to sleep with my blinds open if possible, otherwise I would sleep all day).

      I think how you feel about daylight savings is very dependant on individual routines and preferences, which is why I feel like the sheer length of it is ridiculous because it allows no time for those who find it a nuisance to enjoy the morning light. I can see the point of it in the middle of summer, but not for the months of October and April.

      • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        My commute is quick – about 45 minutes in the morning…

        BUT

        I start work at 7am… so, I need to get up at 5.50 am to make it to work… that’s not a bad turn-around, I guess… but I don’t need to put make-up on 😉

        I think it’s more the Lark-Owl syndrome that affects people more…

        I’m a lark – I wake up with the sun – always have – so by the time September rolls along, I’m starting to wake up at 5am, which is annoying, and I’m hanging out for daylight savings by the time October rolls around…

        I actually loved it in 2000 when Daylight savings started at the beginning of September (for the Olympics) 😉

        I actually like waking up around dawn, and commuting in the early hours of daylight… the light is soft and the streets are quiet… early morning is one of my favourite times of day… I miss that in the middle of summer, even with daylight savings…

        • Jessica Chapman

          How do you feel in March and April just before daylight savings goes out when sunrise is at about 7? That always really messes me up. Really peeves my parents too, who walk the dog in the pitch black at 5:30.

          • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

            Yeah, I could probably cope with early March… there are a couple of weeks where it’s still pre-dawn dark when I get on the bus (but getting light by the time I’m in the city)…

            It’s September that I struggle with…

      • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        Oh – and I forgot one more reason why we need Daylight Savings…

        PETS!

        Our cats can’t read clocks, so they work completely off their body clocks… which means by the time Sept rolls around, our Cats are awake at 5am and expecting us to be awake as well…

        “WHY AREN’T YOU FEEDING ME!!! MY TUMMY IS EMPTY!!!”

        :)

  • 26 Years & Counting

    Much like your grandmother, I hate being woken up at 4.30am because we don’t have daylight savings in Queensland! The other problem with not having it is that it still gets dark pretty early – so you don’t get to go out and enjoy the world after work because it’s dark (not that you can’t enjoy the dark, but you know what I mean!). There’s a reason Brisbane is an 8-4 working city instead of a 9-5 & that reason is daylight savings.

    • Jessica Chapman

      I think that might also be because Brisbane is the eastern most capital city in the eastern time zone and so the sun always rises about a half hour earlier there any way. You just could not do a 8-4 working day in Sydney in winter unless you wanted to get up waaaay before the sun.

      I lived in Albury for a while and because it’s quite far west in the same time zone the sun would often not set in daylight savings until about 9. That was the pits because the hottest time of day was just before sunset. Needless to say the ice cream shops stayed open until very late there.

      Besides, time is arbitrary, why not do a 8-4 working day if it suits the city?

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    …I’m not working longer hours for you in summer…

    *stares daggers*

  • http://www.ispyplumpie.com/ Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie

    I’m like JJ – I get to work early so I love daylight savings. I’m generally a morning person anyway, but having hours of daylight left when I finish work just makes me feel more productive, more social and all around happier. On a completely selfish note – my birthday is the end of March so having daylight savings end then generally means I get an extra hour on the weekend around my birthday every year! Always a nice present!

    • Jessica Chapman

      But if you go to work early don’t you find getting up in the dark depressing? I find it miserable.

      • http://www.ispyplumpie.com/ Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie

        I get to work about 7.30 so it’s light by the time I’m at the end of my commute. I’d prefer it that way rather than finishing work and it being dark already, I find that far too depressing. I guess it helps that I don’t have trouble getting up in the morning anyway!

        • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

          Yep – I prefer a little bit of dark in the morning to going home in the dark… in fact, it’s really unusual for me to go home in the dark, even in winter. If I go home in the dark, I feel like I’ve missed out on some afternoon… :(

  • http://onesmalllifeblog.blogspot.com.au/ One Small LIfe

    I love daylight savings. When I was working I used to love being able to enjoy sunny evenings after work and there was always something a bit depressing about leaving work in the dark week after week (even if you were working the same hours). In fact I probably worked longer in summer because of it being lighter for longer.

    Having said all that – daylight savings confounds me every year. Every year! I get confused (what is the time, is that “real” time or clock time….and what is “real” time anyway *head explosion*).

    It makes me feel dumb cause it takes me so long to get my head around it. And my partner is no help – he clings to the previous time zone for way too long. This just compounds my confusion. I’ll be eating lunch and he’ll be like “You eating? it’s only 10o’clock.” Me: “What? Wait. I thought it was later?” Him: “Oh it is on the clock, but in real time…” Me: “Oh my god, we changed the clocks two weeks ago. Move on.” Does. My. Head. In.

    This year I was really looking forward to it, because my kids have been getting up SO early and I was thinking don’t sweat it, in a few weeks they’ll be getting up at 6am (not 5am!) and all will be right with the world. And they did for like two days. But now? They are back to getting up at 5am – which is really 4am, right? But I just can’t afford to think about that. Like I said. Does. My. Head. In.

    Have to stop thinking about it now. My brain hurts.

    • Jessica Chapman

      Essentially there is no real time, I mean if we wanted to be exactly the same we could just all live on Greenwich Mean Time and Australians would work from 7pm to 3am, but it would be light then because it wouldn’t be any different, just the names would be different.

      • http://onesmalllifeblog.blogspot.com.au/ One Small LIfe

        *huddles in corner, rocks back and forth*

  • Maryann

    I hate daylight saving. I like it to be lighter early as I am a morning person. But my main reason is that it is hot latter in the day and I hate the heat. To me this does not make sense in hot, getting hotter, country like Australia.

    • Jessica Chapman

      Totally with you on that one, should I ever become a bijillionaire or something I plan on travelling so I never have to survive an Australian summer. And my daylight savings-lag would be avoided for actual jet lag.

  • Helena

    we are now living in QLD and I so miss daylight savings – I love having more daylight at the end of the day, especially after being at work all day – and despise the sun blasting into my bedroom at 5.00 am – loving QLD but would happily see daylight savings introduced here

  • Maree.Talidu

    Jess, you’ve articulated everything I hate about Daylight savings beautifully. Cannot stand it, I know other’s enjoy it but I never will and it throws my body off balance for a solid fortnight each time. ugh.