Sciences - Other

Time Change

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"Time Change"
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We drive up to the church on Sunday morning and there are no other vehicles. Have we moved the clock ahead a week early? Has everyone else forgotten to set their clocks ahead? We settle into a pew, wondering silently whether we're confused or just a little early. Soon, others begin to arrive, the service proceeds and we're spared the embarrassment of being the ones who forgot about the time change. As worship concludes we gather outside, greeting the embarrassed few who've arrived late, having forgotten to change their clocks.

The Sunday of "the time change" is frequently disjointed, both spring and fall. Someone invariably changes the kitchen clock but forgets about the alarm clock and sleeps in, missing an event or arriving late. In a few homes, someone changes the clock and someone else sets it back another hour, resulting in double daylight savings! It's a day of confusion and disorientation for many, and the lack of synchronicity persists for some into the following week or longer, depending on how quickly different individuals adjust to the artificial change in their circadian rhythm.

Difficult to calculate, but quite real nonetheless, is the amount of productivity lost to groggy workers recovering from the loss of an hour's sleep on the spring night that the change occurs to Daylight Saving Time. Without careful planning one experiences a mini jet lag, and somehow, the change back in fall doesn't seem to quite make up for the lost hour.

In his "Advice to a Young Tradesman" Benjamin Franklin asserts that "time is money". William F. Shughart II, in a contemporary article, asserts that "time spent resetting clocks and watches is time that cannot be devoted to other, more valuable uses. Switching between daylight saving and standard time has what economists call an "opportunity cost"." Consider the innumerable person-hours dedicated to scheduling airline flights and delivery schedules when some locales change time and others do not. How do we calculate the programming hours that go into switching computers and cell phones from standard time to daylight saving and back?

For many of us, most times it's just an inconvenience or an irritation to deal with the semi-annual time change. For others those who rely on pacemakers, heart rate monitors or glucose monitors - the adjustment can have much more significance. In order to do their jobs these electronic devices must be coordinated with sleep schedules, mealtimes and exercise regimens; the body's natural rhythms don't automatically adjust just because the clock reads differently today from what it showed at this time yesterday. Likewise, livestock and pets don't adjust to the clock so when the time changes we have to revise feeding schedules to ensure consistent care for animals.

Claims have been made that daylight saving time conserves energy. This was apparently true once upon a time when the only electricity consumption was for domestic lighting. We're a long way from that scenario and there appears to be no current research to support this argument. It would seem that the strongest benefactor of daylight saving time is the recreation sector apropos of the origin of the controversial DST: it was invented by William Willett in 1907 as a way to extend summer evenings so that he could spend more time on the golf course.

More about this author: Roberta Velyn

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