I have a finely tuned interior clock. I woke up this morning, certain that it could be no later than 4:00 a.m.
I checked the time on my iPhone.
It was almost 5:00 a.m.
What was up with that? I wondered.
Then I remembered: Today is the beginning of daylight savings time in most of the United States. Clocks move ahead by one hour. (Spring forward, fall back.)
I’m no fan of daylight savings time. Having made many trips between the US and Japan, I know firsthand how disruptive sudden changes in a person’s sleep patterns can be. After every return trip from Japan, I find myself growing unbearably sleepy in the middle of the afternoon. I usually require a full week before I return to my normal sleep cycle.
Granted, daylight savings entails a change of only one hour; but it’s nevertheless disruptive for many people. Each year, there is an uptick in accidents on the first Monday of daylight savings. (I usually notice some minor effects for about a week—though they’re nothing like the jet lag from a trip to Asia.)
I don’t reject the concept of daylight savings time outright. But like so much in our present age—from cell phone usage to political correctness—daylight savings has been taken to a ridiculous extreme.
When I was a kid, daylight savings time ran from the end of April through late October. It was truly a summertime schedule. I recall how the shift to daylight savings time, near the beginning of May, signified that the end of the school year was fast approaching.
In recent years, however, daylight savings begins in early March. Early March is still winter—albeit late winter. The days are still too short to accommodate those summertime hours.
Blame the federal government, of course. Daylight savings time was abruptly expanded to its current dates by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
According to government statistics (which are always highly dubious, given the source), the five-week expansion of daylight savings that began in 2007 resulted in a nationwide electricity savings of 0.03% for that year.
Somehow, I doubt that, given that Americans—including our device-obsessed children—have become indoor creatures. Nor will such nugatory energy savings be foremost on most Americans’ minds, as they drive to work in the dark Monday morning, sleep-deprived.