Last Saturday night, I scurried around the house turning all my clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time and warning my husband and kids that they would be losing an hour of sleep. We dutifully pulled our covers up under our chins by 10:30 (now 11:30!-or so we thought-go to bed!). The next morning, March 3, when I rousted everyone to get up for their Sunday activities and then discovered that Daylight Savings occurs, in fact, this coming this weekend, on March 9, I was not a popular mom. "The good news is you are starting your morning bright and early," I said sheepishly. Groans all around.
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Who out there likes Daylight Savings Time? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Not the citizens of of Arizona or Hawaii who never adopted the practice. Nor the citizens of the Twitterverse, who have been griping about it since at least last weekend when I checked out the hash tag, AbolishDayLightSavings (#DownWithDST is also a popular call to action). Some choice kvetching:
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While Daylight Savings seems like something written on the boulders of Stonehenge, an ancient tradition that's wormed it's into our very DNA, in fact it's a recent practice. The idea of switching the clocks originated with the Benjamin Franklin who quilled an 1784 essay called "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light" in which he suggested sundown curfews and candle rationing. Living in Paris at the time, Franklin was poking fun at the intricate French bureaucracy, but some people just don't have a sense of humor. The idea was tossed around by efficiency experts but wasn't officially adopted for 150 years. During World War I, Germany instituted DST in 1916 in order to save coal, and the rest of Europe followed suit. The United States jumped on the DST bandwagon in 1918. Since then, DST has come and gone, generally linked to energy-conservation issues. Most of Europe and North America observes DST. The Japanese are DST-free, as is the majority of Asia as well as Africa. South America, New Zealand, and Australia are a mixed bag. Riots have occurred over DST and in the United States, every year as many as 30 bills appear before the law makers of states agitating to ditch the dreaded time change.
On a gut level, tinkering with the clocks feels wrong. At the very moment we notice the days are getting longer, we're allotted another hour of light; which means when just the darkness is closing in, we're robbed of the sun. And there are also quantifiable risks associated with the jetlag that's so optimistically called "springing ahead": workplace injuries and car accidents happen with more frequency and the risk of heart attack increases (not to mention battles with crabby children).
Nonetheless, at 2 AM on Sunday, March 9 we will soldier into the sun and lose a chunk of sleep. Buy a bottle of melatonin and put on your nightcap. Maybe you'll have sweet dreams about that precious hour you'll gain on November 2.
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