It’s something we do twice a year because we’re told to, like visiting the dentist and changing our smoke detector batteries. Except that daylight saving time isn’t optional.
People are feeling just a bit off this week. Why? Because we set our clocks back one hour Saturday night in observance of daylight saving time. We enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that comes with “falling back,” but our body clocks are out of whack. And unless we find time to earn advanced degrees in automotive computer science, the clocks in our vehicles will be off an hour until spring. Let’s face it, daylight saving time makes us want to clean someone’s clock.
Who’s to blame? Not farmers, even though they often are falsely accused of promoting daylight saving time. Farmers, their crops and their animals follow the sun in the sky, not the clock on the wall. Do you think a pig knows when it’s daylight saving time? “I’d love to emerge from this pile of my filth to eat my lunch of slop, Farmer Jones, but it’s only 11 a.m. CDT.”
The real culprits are the Germans. And a guy from New Zealand. George Hudson is credited with introducing the daylight saving concept in 1895. He wanted more daylight hours to enjoy after work. Germany instituted national daylight saving time to conserve coal during World War I, and many European nations followed suit. Euros tend to follow trends blindly, hence all the fancy hats.
Largely abandoned after that war, daylight saving returned during World War II and was widely adopted in North America in response to the 1970s energy crisis. This was when people waited in line to buy gas, not iPhones.
The idea is that starting the day earlier saves energy by optimizing sunlight. The problem is that its benefits are unclear. Sort of like flossing. Studies of energy savings have proved inconclusive. Meanwhile, heart attack rates rise during daylight saving time. Oh, and the whole thing throws everyone off for a week or so. That should count for something.
It’s a pain to change every clock in the house, even those that don’t require consulting an owner’s manual. This also is the time when we’re supposed to change the batteries in our smoke detectors, but only people who floss do that.
The timepiece that’s hardest to adjust is the body clock. Twice a year, we have to trick ourselves into accepting something that isn’t true, like 11-year-olds accepting loot from Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Keep in mind the plight of parents of young children, who have to convince toddlers it’s only 7 p.m. when it feels like 8, time for beddy-bye. This is when kids start questioning just what else their parents might be lying about. (See also: Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.)
Regardless of your age, you can try to tell your body it’s only 9 p.m. but it knows it’s 10 — and time for beddy-bye. There’s no fooling the body. Hey, I’d like to believe I’m still young, but my body reminds me otherwise every time I bend over to tie my shoes.
The last thing my body needs is more obstacles to overcome. Why do we do put ourselves through daylight saving time? Because some guy in New Zealand thought it was a good idea 120 years ago. Because the Germans like it almost as much as they like David Hasselhoff. We do it because someone told us to.
It’s time to question why we endure this twice a year. It’s also time for me to find my dental floss.