The summer has passed and not it seems so long since we “sprang” the clocks forward; fall is now well established and tonight we fall-back an hour. Those without children can enjoy an extra hour of sleep, still rising to a full day – oh how I remember those days as well. There are, however, some interesting facts, and media about this time change ritual we observe, that will help in explaining it to the kids, or make you the hit of the Monday morning water cooler.
Some quick tidbits to impress are these: Benjamin Franklin was the first to look at the time the sun rises and suggest an adjustment. Franklin suggested that people adjust their sleeping times, rather than adjusting the clocks though. Clock changing is attributed to a New Zealand Entomologist who wanted extra hours of daylight with which to study his bugs.
An excellent, 36 second primer about the origins of daylight saving time can be found on YouTube.
Over the years, daylight saving time has developed its own mythos, including incorrect theories on it’s reasons and origins.
First, the correct verbiage for this by-yearly event is “Daylight Saving,” not “Savings” time; the plural is incorrect. History.com corrects our grammar by saying, “since the word ‘saving’ acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb, the singular is grammatically correct.”
History.com also enlightens us on some other facts in their article, “8 Things You May Not Know About Daylight Saving Time”.
Although daylight saving time was lobbied for in many countries the first to enact a law was Germany, on April 30th, 1916. They intended to conserve electricity as part of their war effort. The United Kingdom followed suit a short time later, referring to the clock change as “summer time”.
Another myth of this time surrounds farmers. American farmers and the agriculture industry were deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented. We learn:
The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay, hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules.
For those who use other measures than the clock to manage their days, the time daylight arrives has little meaning.
A more in-depth look at daylight saving time can be found in a fantastic video by C.G.P. Grey, via YouTube. While covering some of the history, it also delves into the modern day debate as to whether the clock shift actually still saves us money, or is just an annoyance and a health hazard.
As the video points out, not all places observe daylight saving time, as it is a man-made invention, and it is subject to change at will. In fact, in 1987 Chile delayed its time change by one day to accommodate a papal visit.
We can also see the fallible nature of the time endeavour in the recent North American addition of three weeks of saving time in the fall. A benefit to the adjustment suggested by NPR.org. They feel, “The extra hour of light is likely to make Halloween safer starting in 2007. Children’s pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Oct. 31 than on any other night of the year.” Making kids safer is definitely a good idea.
Lastly, there is a health impact to the time shift. In the spring, it has been documented that bad moods, headaches, traffic accidents, and heart attacks increase due to a loss of sleep. While in the fall we can partake in additional rest, it is still a shock to the body’s circadian rhythms.
Dr. Timothy Monk, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh med school, told NPR.org that we should listen to our bodies. He suggests these two items to help with the adjustment:
- Listen to your body. Go to sleep an hour earlier on Sunday night. Chances are you may even wake before your alarms sounds Monday morning.
- On Monday, prepare yourself a high-protein breakfast. Thanks to another body clock trick, those extra calories you consume early in the day won’t stay with you.
Others recommend getting some exercise and remembering to eat will.
As the clocks change this weekend and we get deeper into the fall and winter, many people begin to feel and display the symptoms of S.A.D. or “Seasonal Affective Disorder”. There are some ways we can naturally combat the phenomena, especially by starting now before it symptoms become overwhelming.
In this video clip nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot shows the CBS Morning Show some of those ways, such as taking in more vitamin D, or Omega 3′s found in fish.
And remember, it’s important to change the batteries in your smoke detectors at the same time the clocks change!