I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. Why, you ask? It’s when daylight savings time begins. We turn our clocks forward one hour. But why exactly? I remember I asked my father this years ago, as it seemed arbitrary to me. And if something is arbitrary, I tend to ask more questions. I like solid reasoning. His answer? To help the farmers get more hours in during the day. It makes sense. In the summer, they can farm later in the evening and it’s still day light. But, his answer isn’t exactly the reason. The real reason we have DST is to allow day light to coincide with the hours we are naturally active. Further to this reason, there is a theory that people are less likely to consume energy in their homes as they are more likely to be out doing things in the evening.
I’m going to explore this energy saving concept in a moment, but first, I want to talk about whether or not DST is actually a good thing. There seems to be a divide on this. One side saying – yes, its beneficial. It allows humans to change their schedules enough to be able to benefit from the day light. Giving us this sense that we’ve “gained” time in some way. Now I’m not referring to the day that you actually change the clocks. Where you feel like you “lose” an hour because you have to get out of bed earlier on Monday. I’m talking about during the summer months when you have 4 or 5 hours of day light after work. Giving yourself the perception that you have more time to do things.
In the winter, I can leave my office at 4 pm, and for a brief amount of time in December, it is dark by the time I get home. I am very much ruled by the sun. If the sun is out, and I’m feeling relatively healthy (ie. no migraine, cold, flu etc.) I want to be doing something. Maybe it’s just cleaning my house. But it gives me energy and makes me want to be productive. If it’s dark out, then I go into hibernation mode. Kind of. I will still do things, but far less. And my body thinks it’s time to go to bed. So when we focus on losing an hour, we are looking at it wrong. I am not saying that I won’t be super cranky come Monday morning, but I am saying that we have to look at it from a long term perspective.
But there are people who will argue that there are an increase in car accidents, or heart attacks during this time. But is that merely coincidence? Or do we have facts to back it up? Yes, I will be foggy on Monday. Yes, I will want to go back to bed before I even wake up. But I would also argue that I feel like that most Monday mornings. And maybe statistics back me up on that. Maybe there are more car accidents and heart attacks on Mondays. People go too hard on the weekends, and they’re inevitably sluggish on Mondays. But I don’t think that’s a reason to balk at DST.
The other thing that we hear is that DST is to help with energy savings. But I’m not sure I understand this completely. Maybe I’m not watching my TV. And maybe I’m not even in my house, but energy is being used. If it’s too hot, I will have the air conditioning on. Maybe not super high, but it’s on nonetheless. If I’m cutting my grass, I’m using some kind of energy. Even if I’m participating in a sport, or going to the gym, I have to take my car. So I’m using energy. I’m more likely to BBQ in the summer, but that still uses propane. I’m having a hard time making the correlation with this one.
But I definitely see the benefit of DST. Because I’m more aware of it now, I will think about how I spend my evenings this summer, and determine if it is a benefit to me. Maybe I will take up hiking this summer. Or get back into something else that I love that I haven’t been able to do. The bottom line for me is that DST signals spring, which is just a gateway to summer. I love the heat and the sunshine and I am very happy that it’s just around the corner.