The second half of the daylight saving time for this year has come and gone, there was a lot of complaining and now, three days later, I doubt anyone has mentioned it again.
Daylight saving time has been around for all of my life and I’ve never had any problem with it. It’s changed over the years. When I was a kid I remember it didn’t start until the end of April and ended in the first week of October.
That always seemed normal to me. You only had a few “dark” mornings and the “early” nights didn’t hit as suddenly as you were given the entire month of October to slide into them. But what we learn and accept as kids always seems comfortable to us.
Nowadays everybody seems to get up in arms whenever the time change hits. Some think it’s the worst thing ever while others like it and look forward to the spring and fall countdowns.
I don’t know exactly how it is in other parts of the country, but around here I’ve always thought we have a time zone problem, not a daylight saving time problem. We’re on the far side of the eastern time zone, meaning we always have longer evenings than those east of us.
While the last rays of daylight might fade away at 8:45 p.m. on the east coast in June, here we get daylight until nearly 9:30 p.m.
Conversely, it might be daylight at 5 a.m. on the east coast in June, while here, the earliest we get it is right around 6 a.m.
Then, over the cold, hateful days of winter, we still get daylight until nearly 6 p.m. while the east coast dwellers stare sadly at a dark sky at 4:30 p.m.
But there are doctors and scientists who think switching back and forth is bad for people, though most of us only mention it on the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday of November.
Still, let’s look at of some of the things those a lot smarter than us say about DST:
When it comes to sleep, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults sleep less than the recommended seven-plus hours nightly and more than half of U.S. teens don’t get the recommended eight-plus hours on weeknights.
One U.S. study found that in the week following the spring switch to daylight saving time, teens slept about 2½ hours less than the previous week. Many people never catch up during the subsequent six months.
Research suggests that chronic sleep deprivation can increase levels of stress hormones that boost heart rate and blood pressure and of chemicals that trigger inflammation.
Well, that’s depressing, but what about heart problems? It has also been shown that blood tends to clot more quickly in the morning. These changes underlie evidence that heart attacks are more common in general in the morning and may explain studies showing that rates increase slightly on Mondays after clocks are moved forward in the spring, when people typically rise an hour earlier than normal.
That increased risk associated with the time change is mainly in people already vulnerable because of existing heart disease, said Barry Franklin, director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Health Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. Studies suggest that these people return to their baseline risk after the autumn time change.
And what about when you’re driving down the road, singing along to your favorite tune? Numerous studies have linked the start of daylight saving time in the spring with a brief spike in car accidents and with poor performance on tests of alertness, both likely due to sleep loss. The research includes a German study published this year that found an increase in traffic fatalities in the week after the start of daylight saving time, but no such increase in the fall.
Other studies on how returning to standard time in the fall might impact car crashes have had conflicting results.
So, what do we do?
Despite everybody yelling about either dropping DST or staying on that time all year long (watch the sun rise at 9 a.m. around here!), there’s never anything done.
Arizona and Indiana don’t observe daylight saving time, yet Delaware, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all northeastern states, have bills currently being looked at to have DST year round as they’re tired of 4:30 p.m. sunsets over the winter.
So, actually, we’ve got it pretty good around here. It might be a little irritating for part of the winter, but from May through half of August, we’ve got daylight until, or after, 9 p.m. I think that makes up for November through March.