Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Saving Daylight

                We are once again “saving daylight” since we went back on daylight savings time (DST) on Sunday, March 10, 2013.  I do not like DST; specifically, I do not appreciate switching my clocks – both my timepieces and my body clock - twice each year.  If DST is so great, why don’t we stay on that schedule all year long?

I have wondered for years why Alaska even bothers with daylight savings time because it does not see to make much difference.  In the period of time between March 21 and September 21 each year, Alaskans enjoy more daylight than darkness.  We do not really need an additional hour of light in the evening when the sun sets at 11:00 p.m. or later!  The long hours of daylight keep all of us outside longer than we need to be; they particularly make it more difficult to get children settled down for the night. 

I was quite surprised when a good friend stated that DST is her favorite time of year!  Her statement made me think more seriously about DST, and my opinion of DST began to change after reading several articles about it.

There are two different thoughts about DST.  One group of thinkers wonders if daylight savings time has served its cause and is now causing more problems that it is solving.  Rick Moran  is just one of the people who wonder if it is time to “dump daylight savings time.”  He claims that increasingly more people are calling for an end of the practice for health reasons as well as to save energy. 

JosephSerna at the LA Times which referenced several studies showing negative effects of daylight savings time:  “61% of U.S. adults say daylight saving time affects their work the Monday after the changeover;” the changeover affects “people’s moods to eating and driving habits;” “there’s a 6% to 10% increase in heart attacks in the first three workdays after the start of daylight saving time;” “men were more likely to commit suicide in the first few weeks after the switch,” accidents “increased by 11% the Monday after the change,” and “stock markets [are] more volatile the Monday after a time change” – usually leading to “negative returns.”

On the other side of the discussion, Glenn Doi and Don Nagasaki gave a short history lesson about DST and believe there is value in keeping it.  “The extra hour of sunlight helps businesses in general because many people, primarily for safety reasons, simply do not like to drive or shop at night.  As realtors, the extra hour of usable sunlight gives us an extra hour to conduct business during weekdays, because many potential buyers who are looking at houses after work, want to see the houses, and their surrounding neighborhoods, while there is still daylight.
“But the main reason daylight savings time is a benefit for most Americans, is that it gives people one more hour of `usable’ daylight.  Most working people … wake up, get themselves ready, scoot off to work, and later return home from work.  If there is an extra hour of sunlight in the morning, particularly during summer, it’s wasted.  It’s after work that the average person plays ball with his kid, rides his bike, or goes shopping – activities that many people don’t want to do during the nighttime.  So even though DST began as a way to save energy, it has become a quality-of-life issue.”

Problems that come from changing to and from daylight savings time can be compared to jet lag and can be solved in similar ways.  The best thing we can do is in both cases is to take several days to adjust sleeping and waking times.  Whether we are “springing forward” or “falling back, we can start on Friday to adjust our “inner clocks” and make several small changes – say fifteen minutes – per day over the weekend; we can prepare our bodies to make the adjustment and be better prepared for Monday morning.

Today I overheard a conversation between my daughter and her husband about the advantages of DST.  They will now have daylight after work to play disc golf or go boating.  Their son’s baseball practices and games will start a little later and be more convenient.

                My thoughts about DST are much more positive now because I can see numerous advantages to having an additional hour of “usable” daylight each day.  I realize that DST does not make our days longer but simply gives us more daylight later in the day.  I understand that how DST affects us personally is up to us.  I still do not understand why we don’t make DST permanent! 

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