pocket watch and book

Falling Back, Staying Put, or…?

Early this Sunday morning, clocks in most places in North America fell back by one hour, to Standard Time. (Okay, so a whole lot of smart phones jumped the gun, so to speak, a week early. Maybe courtesy of a Halloween gremlin?)

Falling back and springing forward has been happening for decades. The idea was to save energy. Or to lengthen summer evenings and not have the crack of dawn arrive at 4 a.m. Until recently, the change happened every 6 months, but “since 2007, in areas of Canada and the United States of America in which it is used, daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November.” (So says Wikipedia.)

As you read this, keep in mind that the tilt of the Earth relative to the Sun, and the consequent changes in day length in different places, is real and unchangeable (at least by us humans). Clock time, on the other hand, is a human construct. Until the past couple of centuries, humans managed their sleeping and waking by the sun. Now most of us are governed by clocks and artificial light.

For the past decade or so, there has been a lot of grumbling about the semiannual clock change, especially in spring, when suddenly you’re late or sleep deprived, or both. Serious proposals have been made to just stop this nonsense already. The province of British Columbia and a handful of US western states were working out a plan for permanent Daylight Saving Time just before the Covid pandemic began. The rationale was, we’re on DST for 8 months of the year already; why not just keep it year round? Like many other things, the plan was derailed by the virus.

One Canadian jurisdiction, the Yukon Territory, actually changed to permanent DST in 2020. I haven’t been able to find out how that went for people who live there, but a proposition for permanent DST was recently voted down by a narrow margin in the province of Alberta. This article addressed some of the pros and cons.

Recently, I’ve heard and read arguments against permanent DST and in favour of permanent Standard Time. Experts on sleep (not cats, but people who study sleep scientifically) say that year round DST would diverge too much from the natural sleep-wake cycle baked into our physiology. Especially in northern latitudes, sunrise in winter would happen as late as 10 a.m., which would mess us up as much as the twice a year clock change, only the effect would be of longer duration. So we’d experience more grumpiness, accidents, heart attacks, etc.

It seems that morning light has all kinds of benefits, both mental and physical. Forcing people to get up and out while their brain and body think they should still be asleep has bad effects such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and even obesity. Standard Time synchs clocks with sunrise better than Daylight Time would if the latter were maintained in winter. The later sunrises and lingering evenings of Daylight Time in summer are not shown to have those fundamental benefits.

These arguments do make sense to me, now that I’ve heard them expressed by different experts and thought about them for a while. To be truthful, the clock changes didn’t bother me that much when I was working, but then I’m lucky to have few problems getting to sleep and staying that way for at least 7 hours. And now that I’m retired, being on time isn’t as important. I lived in the province of Saskatchewan for twelve years (1980 to 1992), where permanent Standard Time is in place, with no plans to change, as far as I know. The only inconvenience there was figuring out what time it was in other places before making a phone call.

What do you think of the semiannual clock change? Are you okay with “Spring forward, fall back,” or do you want it done away with?

And here are a few garden sights from October…

Featured image from Pixabay

67 comments

  1. The first couple of days are hard for me but I adjust fairly quickly. Honestly I don’t like how it gets darker quicker in the winter months, it makes me feel like I’ve wasted my whole day by being at work… 😅 I wouldn’t mind some more daylight hours during winter but I’m used to it now.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t really mind as it is the actual very short winter days that can affect people who have ‘SAD’ seasonal affective disorder. I don’t mind cosy dark winter afternoons. But last weekend when our clocks went back I was reminded that for those of us who don’t sleep well an extra hour of endless night is the last thing we want!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’ve gotten used to the time changes, which seem more nuisance than anything else. Your post did bring to mind my family’s annual vacation that we spent in the woods for a month. Our camp didn’t have electricity, so we got up and went to bed by the sun. It was a much more natural and healthy way to live.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve read arguments on both sides, but the increased accidents and deaths following the “spring forward” is a big deal, I think. If we could just leave the clock be (either in DST or regular time), maybe we’d save some lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Personally, I would like to see Standard Time year around. I think it depends on whether you’re a morning person or a night person, and I’m a morning person. I get up about 5:00am and I shut up the blinds about 4:00pm and rarely crack a door after that. And I hate getting up four hours before the sun and then having to put my trash out for pick-up in the dark (it’s supposed to be out by 7:00am). But I know I’m in the minority.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hate springing forward in March. It is finally light in the morning and to have to go back to darkness for more weeks is very depressing and annoying. It is already as light as it needs to be in the evening. I had to laugh at the statement that this can cause obesity–I don’t overeat, I just have not time-synched. Good points, Audrey.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Falling back doesn’t bother me much, but after springing forward in March, my body and my brain need days to adjust. The benefits are questionable and consequences often serious. I’d prefer Standard Time year around.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I hate the time change. For me it meant getting out to work in the dark and driving home in the dark to spend the evening in the dark. Fortunately I’m now semi-retired, but even so I’d prefer to wake up in the dark (or sleep in!) and have a little more afternoon daylight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the abruptness of the change that causes problems, I think. It will be interesting to see if the western states and provinces ever agree to staying on one or the other. (Somehow I’m not optimistic, given our contentious times.)

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  9. I do want to see a permanent change to one or the other, but I don’t have strong feelings about whether it should be standard or daylight savings time. I know that this coming week there will be car accidents, serious injuries, and possible deaths over the next few days. For that reason alone, I fail to understand why politicians are so slow to act.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good post. I may print this one to share with mom. We were talking about it this morning but I can never remember the arguments pro/con. I do know that twice a year I grumble. It’s a pain to take the clocks off the wall and change them. I have trouble adjusting to the loss of an hour. An extra hour is never a problem. But I’m all for picking one and sticking with it. Whichever one gives us more sun in the afternoon in winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Standard Time would be best in winter and okay in summer. The changes in day length would be gradual. And no fiddling with clocks. I’m glad you found this post informative, JeanMarie!

      Like

  11. I was always told the change was for the farmers so they had more daylight hours to work the fields. My dad worked from sun up to sun down so I can see the advantage. It doesn’t bother me. I was pleased when the clocks changed last weekend (in Europe) and I could walk the dogs in daylight. Mind you, the dogs were not told about the change and tried to wake me up at 6:30. Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmm. Speaking of farmers, the daylight hours remain the same no matter what the clock says. As a child on a northern farm, we adapted more to natural light than to the clock. I find changing the clocks an annoyance, but a very minor one. I’d prefer we stay on Standard Time all year round. Yes, I’m a morning person!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I think the changing time disrupts our sleep, Audrey. I’d go for permanent DST (any consistent time really). I agree with you that as a retired person it’s not as much of an issue, and thank goodness my technology all updates automatically or I’d be totally confused.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t know how to change the clock in my car so for 1/2 the year the time is correct and for the other half it is wrong. I just have to subtract an hour. I haven’t been late for anything yet!

      Liked by 2 people

            1. I would have to do that if it showed miles. We’re mostly metric up here. Except in grocery stores, where produce is still priced by the pound. Bulk stuff like nuts, however, is so much per 100 grams. It makes no sense but works, sort of like changing clocks twice a year.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s never bothered me in the least. I don’t usually say anything, but I’m always amazed at how worked up some people get about this issue. With all the significant problems there are in the world, this seems of relative unimportance. You’ve made some compelling arguments why we should continue to adjust the clock.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I am more affected by the thought of what each change brings. Falling back signals that months of cold and dark are on the way, not something I look forward to. Springing forward announces the brighter, warmer days of summer are coming. And that always makes me happy!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Luckily the two of us share the same view on the last Saturday / Sunday of March when we change from GMT (Greenwich Meantime) to BST (British Summer Time), we grumble excessively about ‘National Let’s Lose An Hour’s Sleep Time’ and are convinced we don’t come right until the last Saturday/Sunday of October when we get our hour back.
    I was never for the whole business as it’s the movements of the planet which parcel out the daylight.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. 2 years ago our province had a referendum about daylight savings. 97% of the people who voted said it ought to be abolished, myself included.
    Before the vote our Premier indicated that he would go with the will of the people. Afterwards, he said that because borderers with the US state of Washington, and Washington could only turn off their DST by federal decree/mandate/thingy, (and at that time the orange cheeto was the Prez and nothing was getting done on a federal level) we in BC, another country, mind you, would have to put up with DST for a while longer.
    Needless-to-say, nothing further has been done … gotta love bureaucracy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I remember that. The orange idiot was the problem then, and when he left, Covid arrived and derailed further development of the plan. It might be revived when everyone gets grumpy at Spring Ahead time, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. You can’t count on politicians.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a point there, Chuck, about the longer evenings. When I was working, I used them to work in the garden. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the early arrival of morning light. Of course you have to wake up early to appreciate it.

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  18. I used to be a night owl. Now, I seem to be an early bird and tend to wake with the sun in summer anyway. What I hate is the artificial shift that’s required twice a year. I’d be happier if we just stayed with standard time.

    Liked by 1 person

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