Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ready for Daylight Time

Daylight time begins today in the United States. This year, I was ready.

I have spent the last month getting up at 6 a.m. It was a sleep schedule that didn’t make much sense, given the hours of my daily obligations, but it makes sense now. This morning, I got up at the same time, but with the change in the clocks, it was 7 a.m., and the right time for me to be getting up in order to be in sync with the world.

The fact that daylight time could occupy a small part of my attention for several weeks in a row, or that it could lead me to create such an elaborate work-around, shows how expensive it is. If I had to put a price tag on the personal disruption caused by the switch to daylight time, I think it would be more than $100.

Of course, most people don’t prepare or pay much attention to the clock change for daylight time. They, then, may be even more affected. Epidemiologists can look at statistics for this week, the first week of daylight time, and find a substantial increase in mishaps of all kinds, from auto accidents to heart attacks. Some of the this is the result of people rushing to catch up with the clock that has jumped an hour ahead of them. Some, though, is just the result of the vague disorientation that inevitably results as people struggle to reset their biological rhythms to match the mechanical rhythm of the clock. The popular belief that daylight time does not cost anything is only an illusion. As many as 1 percent of the accidents and deaths that occur over the course of the year might be influenced to some degree by daylight time. From those costs alone, daylight time is an expensive exercise indeed.

I have been calling for years for daylight time to be phased out. And beyond daylight time, I believe there are many other hassles like it: governmental or institutional busy-work that we take for granted as part of life, but that, with careful attention, could be eliminated.