Mike the Mad Biologist

Why I Hate Going Off Daylight Saving Time

Personally, I hate setting the clocks back in winter. Since I basically wake up shortly after it gets light, I essentially lose an hour of sleep: going to bed an hour earlier really isn’t an option–it’s not like work shifts itself one hour earlier. And in Boston, the combination of being in the eastern part of the time zone, high latitude, and buidlings, means it gets dark around 4:30 pm and is pitch black by 5:30 pm. (Having said that, when I was in Gaithersburg, MD last week, it didn’t really seem to get sunny–on a clear day–until around 8:15 am).

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks going off DST sucks:

But this also robs afternoons of an hour of daylight, and some experts argue that in more northern regions, the energy needed to brighten this darkness, and the limits it puts on outdoor activities are harming our health and the environment.

Leaving clocks alone as winter approaches would allow an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon and could boost levels of vitamin D as well as encourage people to exercise more….

I hate it.

Discuss, preferably with lots of cursing and bombast.

Comments

  1. #1 John Danley
    November 7, 2010

    Ironically named. It should be Daylight Wasting Time.

  2. #2 Julie Stahlhut
    November 7, 2010

    I’m a New Englander by birth, and spent the first 17 years of my adult life in the Boston area. Also really hated that 4:15 PM darkness in the winter.

    One problem that not enough people curse about: Eastern New England is in the wrong time zone. If Boston were in the Atlantic time zone, things would be at least slightly better. But the time zone was artificially kinked around the border, and Boston is stuck in the EST/EDT belt.

    Now, western Michigan went to the opposite extreme — should probably be in Central Time, but isn’t. I loved those long sunny summer evenings of EDT in Kalamazoo. In mid-June, you could still see a bit of light at 10:30 PM.

  3. #3 george.w
    November 7, 2010

    For me it means that I ride to work in the dark, and it is light while I am indoors in a room with no windows. Then I ride home in the dark.

    Fuck.

  4. #4 Ahcuah
    November 7, 2010

    You might want to see today’s (Sunday) Arlo & Janis comic strip on the subject.

  5. #5 Lenoxuss
    November 7, 2010

    To clarify: This would be roughly equivalent to there being “no DST”, right? Just have everything an hour earlier and leave it at that.

    Or do you mean changing the clocks at different times of the year?

  6. #6 Dunc
    November 7, 2010

    Cursing and bombast? OK…

    I fucking hate DST (or rather, BST over here) with a passion. What the fuck is it with you bastard “morning people” that you feel the need to force me to get up an hour earlier just because you want to? Fuckers. I spend my entire fucking life somewhere between 2 and 3 hours out-of-sync with my natural circadian rhythm as it is, and you want to make that at least 3 hours even in the deepest, darkest hell-pits of winter? I bet you’d be arguing for an extra DST hour in the summer next… I might as well go back to working fucking night shifts.

    Keep your clock on DST if you like, but leave mine the fuck alone or I will come round your house in the middle of the night and slit your throat while you sleep.

    Up here at 55 degrees North, leaving the clocks on BST would mean the sun rising at about 10am in the depths of winter. The energy argument is bollocks – you need the lights on all fucking day up here anyway, and if you have a job in regular office hours, you’ll never see daylight no matter what you do with the clocks because there’s only about 6 hours of it, and most of that can’t really be described as “light” – it’s just a slightly lighter shade of grey. Some days you’d think the Sun never rises at all.

    Oh, and Boston? You don’t know what “high latitude” means. You’re in the fucking tropics.

    (Note: persistent social jet-lag may influence a number of mental health issues and is strongly associated with smoking. I managed to quit fairly recently, but put me on BST during the winter and I’ll be smoking fucking crack right up until the day I kill myself. Probably late January sometime.)

  7. #7 Jon Buhler
    November 7, 2010

    There has been so much outcry about this for so many years, with only the minor adjustment made a few years ago (and for which Bush II will be remembered as the Great Reformer)one has to wonder who has a vested interest in perpetuating this bi-annual hassle. I just can’t come up with a viable big money culprit. Even at 40N falling back is a recipe for seasonal affect disorder.
    Dunc, I remember reading there was a time around the end of WWII when there was a two hour extension of BST, and it was left in place year round until Scotland was on the verge of rebellion.

  8. #8 cass_m
    November 7, 2010

    I guess DST must be for you then because being @53 N I could definitely see not going onto DST ever. We get daylight from near 4am to almost 11 pm for a couple months and in the winter an hour doesn’t make the daylight extend into activity time for most people.

    If most people don’t like it then why is it done?

  9. #9 Tony P
    November 7, 2010

    I hate the change back to standard time too. And yes, when it starts getting dark at 4:15PM its no fun.

    I recall working in Braintree and commuting from Providence via the MBTA. I’d leave home in the dark and come home in the dark.

    Ostensibly morning light is supposed to benefit the kiddies on their way to school. I say screw em’. Let em learn to live in the dark.

  10. #10 Roger Sweeny
    November 7, 2010

    Oh, get real. The problem isn’t DST or BST or whatever. The problem is that above 40N, there just isn’t enough daylight in the winter.

    Move it earlier and some people will be in it on the way to work. Move it later and some people will be in it on the way home. But nobody’s going to get it both ways and some people aren’t going to get it at all.

  11. #11 Physicalist
    November 7, 2010

    Extra hour of sleep. Me likey. (1¢)

    I’d be very happy to be on Atlantic time instead of Eastern. (1¢)

    (That’s my two cents.)

  12. #12 Physicalist
    November 7, 2010

    And Mike, if the light wakes you up, you should get some heavy-duty black-out drapes. I had a friend who needed dark to sleep (grew up in a basement), and he had to work hard to keep the light out in the morning, but he did succeed.

  13. #13 Snarkyxanf
    November 7, 2010

    End DST altogether, and start things at a civilized hour.

  14. #14 CRM-114
    November 7, 2010

    I once worked an outside job seven days a week, from daybreak to nightfall, for nine months, and had no use for a watch or clock. Within a couple months, the sun ruled my body clock, and soon I was sleeping wonderfully, waking to the morning chorus, and growing sleepy with the fall of dark.

    Forcing ourselves to be driven by an artificial clock (where ‘noon’ rarely occurs at the sun’s meridian transit) is bad enough, but to shift the clock around is insanity.

    airies do not observe the time change. Cows want to be milked at the usual time, not an hour early or an hour late.

    Note: I do not personally shift my clocks forward (or backward). I simply change from Pacific Standard Time to Mountain Standard Time, and I do everything an hour early. I’ve been doing this for years, and so far nobody has caught on.

  15. #15 NewEnglandBob
    November 7, 2010

    The school buses went by here last week around 7:00 am in the total dark. Not cool.

  16. #16 Mary
    November 7, 2010

    Oh, man, when I worked at The Jackson Lab, it seemed like it got dark around 3:30 in the afternoon. It was rough. Makes winter even longer than it needs to be….

  17. #17 Tacroy
    November 7, 2010

    We just need to decouple the concept of “what time is it” from the concept of “is it bright outside”.

    Look, unless you’re more than about a light-second away from the Earth, it’s always now everywhere and pretending otherwise only causes confusion. We should get rid of these retarded local clocks and move to a global standard – UTC, Beijing standard time, mid-Atlantic local time, I don’t are what as long as everyone uses the same damn thing. After we get that set up, you can decide what hours you want your business to run, and everyone in the global community will understand it.

  18. #18 Josh
    November 7, 2010

    Although it’s evident after reading your article that you hate daylight savings time, I have the complete opposite opinion. I have no idea why we set our clocks back an hour as winter approaches, but I think doing so has a few benefits. First of all, setting our clocks back an hour provides us with an extra hour of sleep, which I think everybody could use. Like myself, most teenagers don’t get the required eight hours of sleep every night and because going to sleep earlier isn’t an option sometimes, setting the clocks back an hour helps us catch up on missed sleep. Another reason I like daylight savings time is that the sun sets at a later time. Before DST, the sun would begin to set around 5:30, which I hate. When it gets dark so early, I feel as if it’s so much later than it actually is, and I become very tired and just want to go to sleep, rather than doing homework. However, setting the clocks back gives us an extra hour of sunlight to go outside to play sports and do other things to stay active. Even though I disagreed with your article, you made some interesting points, and can see why you dislike DST.

  19. #19 Holland
    November 7, 2010

    While staying on DST seems like a great idea for the colder lands of the Eastern United States, we in California would actually prefer for Standard Time to be year-round. The extra hour of daylight during the heat of the summer is a massive energy drain since it’s just another hour we have to run our AC. I do agree though that switching between times is idiotic.

  20. #20 D. C. Sessions
    November 7, 2010

    While staying on DST seems like a great idea for the colder lands of the Eastern United States, we in California would actually prefer for Standard Time to be year-round.

    And your neighbors immediately to the east sit here smugly, having not diddled our clocks for almost fifty years. It’s wonderful, thank you very much, and the only thing that would make it better would be for y’all to get some collective sense and quit committing chronological perversions yourselves.

  21. #21 Robert S.
    November 7, 2010

    It is completely unnecessary now, as opposed to back in the farming days when it was implemented. It causes no end of problems in matching timing with each other, from state to state, country to country. We live in global community now, so harmonizing our schedules has never been more important.

  22. #22 Robert S.
    November 7, 2010

    “We should get rid of these retarded local clocks and move to a global standard – UTC, Beijing standard time, mid-Atlantic local time, I don’t are what as long as everyone uses the same damn thing. After we get that set up, you can decide what hours you want your business to run, and everyone in the global community will understand it.”

    Yes, yes, yes!, been thinking the same thing for years, and it’s something the military does, for all the benefits (and needs) you can imagine.

  23. #23 John
    November 7, 2010

    Tacroy and Robert: Count me in…or is that out?. We don’t need DST anymore, and we don’t need timezones or 12 hour clocks anymore. Things were different in Ben Franklin’s day, and he was a genius (sort of) in lampooning the British for preferring to “sleep by daylight and work by candlelight.” But that was a long time ago. We have world wide information networks, wireless communication everything and GPS to boot. We can deal with the solar thing.

  24. #24 Lenoxuss
    November 8, 2010

    I do not personally shift my clocks forward (or backward). I simply change from Pacific Standard Time to Mountain Standard Time, and I do everything an hour early. I’ve been doing this for years, and so far nobody has caught on.

    Nobody notices that you move every six months? ;)

  25. #25 FrauTech
    November 8, 2010

    CRM- I’m confused, why switch between PST and MST? MST is PST for half the year. MST is Arizona’s answer to ridiculous time changes, they don’t switch for daylight savings time. So now PST and MST are in sync again. I don’t think I care whether we have DST or “standard time” but like others I just hate the switch a couple times a year, it only serves the purpose of confusing me for a couple weeks until I get used to the new levels of sunlight. Like most office slobs I’m stuck indoors all the hours of sunlight anyways, so I can’t say it makes much of a difference, just wish the fools would pick one!

  26. #26 Eric Lund
    November 8, 2010

    We should get rid of these retarded local clocks and move to a global standard – UTC, Beijing standard time, mid-Atlantic local time, I don’t are what as long as everyone uses the same damn thing.

    China already does this. By longitude the country should have five time zones, but everything is on Beijing time (+0800).

    Eastern New England is in the wrong time zone.

    Unfortunately, not true except for downeast Maine. (I live in New Hampshire, so I am familiar with this problem.) Everything between 67.5 and 82.5 W longitude should be in the Eastern time zone. Boston’s longitude is about 71W. (A few years ago there was a proposal to put Maine on year-round EDT/AST, but it seems to have died.)

    I bet you’d be arguing for an extra DST hour in the summer next

    Then stay the hell away from Alaska, which should be -1000 (in Anchorage and Fairbanks) but is actually -0900 on standard time and -0800 on DST (except in the Aleutian Islands, which are officially -1000 and -0900 but should be -1200). I’ve been to Fairbanks (about 65N) in January; it’s weird to see pitch dark skies (not even a hint of twilight, which lasts a long time at those latitudes) at 8 AM.

    Of course, Alaska is far enough north that DST doesn’t really help. DST doesn’t help much in the tropics either, because the day length varies so little. It’s only at middle latitudes (roughly 30-50 degrees) that it helps.

    And then there are the Southern Hemisphere countries that observe DST, obviously during austral summer. Depending on the date of travel, the time difference between Boston and São Paulo can be anywhere from one to three hours.

  27. #27 Pete
    November 8, 2010

    Moving the clocks has no effect on vitamin d levels. In the summer you can make vitamin d for a few hours either side of midday. In the winter you cannot make it at all, unless you live fairly close to the equator. Once the UV index is below 4 you better start eating the tablets.

  28. #28 GEW
    November 8, 2010

    As a very severe Not A Morning Person, I’m all for year-round DST if only to spare myself the agony of losing an hour of sleep every spring. But frankly, a lot of the nonsense could be avoided if businesses went to a 4*10 schedule instead of 5*8. Would save everyone some commuting time, too.

    I think people who get gleeful about doing things in the early morning daylight forget that temperature lags the sun. In cooler weather, getting out of bed when the sun rises is uncomfortable just because it’s too frigging cold; going to bed when the sun sets feels like wasting warmth.

  29. #29 Tony P
    November 8, 2010

    Let me say that my job which I cannot disclose involved me knowing UTC.

    That said, today was the first day back to work after the fall setback.

    I left the office and it was pitch black outside. And cold, and raining and of course our wonderful public transit system was all running late.

    This is usually enough to get my mood right at the tipping point.

    Well, it tipped. Coming home, two blocks before my stop someone else pulled the signal cord and the light lit up. The driver, daydreaming, continued on five more blocks past three more stops and then finally stopped.

    As I was getting off the bus I said: “You think you missed a stop a few blocks back there? Thanks a lot! Pay attention you fucking jackass.”

    Yeah, I’m Italian-American and the mouth gets engaged when I’m uncomfortable with something.

  30. #30 D. C. Sessions
    November 8, 2010

    I think people who get gleeful about doing things in the early morning daylight forget that temperature lags the sun.

    On the contrary, I’m painfully aware of it. The hours just before and after dawn are the only ones where outdoors is bearable without air conditioning. By the time 0800 comes around, it’s already sneaking up on 100F. Where it stays until 22:00 or so.

    Trading an hour of sweltering darkness for an hour of the only decent temperatures of the day is not a bargain.

  31. #31 Brownielax
    November 8, 2010

    Although I do not like the shortened days, I definitely like “falling back” and gaining an hour, against common feelings as it seems. As a student athlete that is never done working, waking up in the morning is one of my biggest challenges and it started to get to the point where it was getting very tough. Once the mornings would be dark, not only when I woke up, but when I was already at school too, I had a lot of trouble. But after my first day of having the extra time to let the sun rise up, I definitely like it. I can see how it would not be favorable to have the later hour because there is less time of sun at the end of the day. For me, I feel much more focused on my work when the moon has risen and sleep is pulling on my eyes, so in two ways, the time change has helped me.

  32. #32 Seth
    November 9, 2010

    I can honestly say that I don’t like DST. Sure, it gives me an extra hour, but does waking up earlier really matter when one has to get up to complete darkness? I am not a morning person at all, rather I’m what some may call a night owl, and, as you mentioned, life continues it’s schedule. Work and School aren’t going to push themselves back an hour, so we find ourselves going earlier and later, a combination that doesn’t lead to a very happy ending.

  33. #33 Adin
    November 14, 2010

    I am from Chicago and I also recently noticed how annoying DST is. I wake up to go to school at around six thirty AM and before DST it was pretty dark for the first half hour or so. I liked this because my eyes adjusted gradually with the light as it got lighter. Now it is bright out when I wake up and it makes getting out of bed much harder because I can’t open my eyes. Like you said about the afternoon, there is no time to do any physical activity. It is too dark to play sports at about five’ o’clock and when it gets dark out I naturally get drowsy and tired so I don’t feel like exercising. Another point I can argument that you did not mention is that in this modern age there really is no need for DST. Agriculture is not nearly as vital to our economy as it was when DST was created. Originally DST was to give the farmers more daylight in the summer, but like I said it is not as important now a days.

  34. #34 Jim
    February 24, 2011

    why not just split the difference?…adjust all the clocks by 30 minutes then leave them alone for the rest of eternity and be done with it.