Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time

“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me while I looked around for my possibilities…Hang onto your hopes, my friend. That’s an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away, simply pretend that you can build them again.”
--“Hazy Shade of Winter” by Paul Simon

On this first day of daylight savings time, I admit that I dread this annual “springing forward” where the clocks are turned ahead one hour. Since I have to get up by six o’clock every morning to get ready for my job as a teacher, I know that for the next few weeks, I’ll be waking up in the dark again after the past few welcome weeks of awakening to early sunlight. I also know that my body will need a few weeks to adjust to going to bed earlier and getting up earlier as my system tries to reset its circadian rhythms.

I’m certain that those who decided daylight savings time is a good idea probably don’t have to get up as early as my colleagues and I do. In doing some background reading about the origins of this concept of shifting time, I ran across an online article [To read this article, click here.] from National Geographic that indicates Ben Franklin first came up with this idea of making better use of daylight. During World War II, the United States mandated daylight savings time as a way to save resources. In my home state of Indiana, until 2006, most of the state opted not to go on daylight savings time, so in the spring, summer, and early fall, all counties were on the same time, but in the late fall and winter, a handful of counties were an hour behind the rest of the state. Interestingly, a study in Indiana showed that daylight savings time really did not save energy, one of the primary reasons given for moving the clocks ahead one hour.

Besides my resistance to get up earlier in the dark, I always fret about how the time change will affect Alex, who is sensitive to changes. Although he has understood the concept of daylight savings time and has been very aware of telling time, even when he was little because he loved clocks, Alex doesn’t always readily adapt to the time changes in the spring and fall. Over the years, we have tried adjusting his bedtime by a few minutes each night in the days prior to the time changes, and that never really seemed to make a difference. Like his mother, within a few weeks, he simply adapted to the changes and was able to adjust his sleeping habits.

This year, we’re hoping that daylight savings time is the change Alex needs to reset his internal clock that has been off for several weeks. Like a preschooler, he has been getting sleepy shortly after supper and going to bed in the early evening, which means he also awakens between 5:30 and 6:00 A.M. Also, he has been insisting that he wants to eat dinner about an hour earlier than we normally eat, telling us he’s hungry around 4:00 or 4:30 when we usually eat dinner between 5:00 and 5:30. I guess because he starts the day about an hour earlier than he used to has completely thrown off his internal clock and shifted his basic routines of sleeping and eating forward an hour. With fingers crossed and prayers said, Ed and I are hoping that shifting the clocks forward an hour will remedy this situation so that he’ll get up around 7:00, go to bed after 9:00, and be ready to eat dinner at 5:00 or 5:30. In fact, we were tempted to not change the clocks so that Alex would rely on his biorhythms instead of the actual time. So, we shall see how he adapts and hope for the best. Maybe this daylight savings time will be one to celebrate instead of to endure. If Alex adapts nicely, it will be worth getting up in the dark—at least that’s what I’ll tell myself tomorrow morning as I stumble out of bed an hour earlier than my body is used to doing.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

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