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Monday, March 9, 2015

On Being Lost in Daylight Saving Time

Mobilize an extra hour of daylight, but just remember you
may lose your students for a few days!

Well, here we are again, unless you are living in Hawaii or Arizona, feeling someone has stolen an hour from our lives.  At 2 a.m. Sunday morning, it suddenly became 3 a.m.  It all happened when the lights were out!  Stop!  I've been robbed!

Daylight saving time hits kids particularly hard.  They are busy, growing in their beds as they sleep.  Teenagers, in particular, are known for their affinity for sleep.  It is painful for them to pull themselves up in the morning.  This will make it even more painful.  It will be particularly hard for those students who must start their school day shortly after 7 a.m.  I know a whole school full of such kids!

Hopefully, teachers will postpone any first-period tests for a few days.  Students will be even more drowsy than usual.  Only rarely does one witness such widespread sleep deprivation.  It comes with DST and it comes when the Yankees are in the World Series.  If you have been teaching in NY for more than a couple of years, you know this well.

It will also be hard on working adults.  How do I know?  I am one.  I bet you are, too!  Whether you wake up before 5 a.m. each morning or closer to nine, your body has been trained on another schedule.  Your body rhythms have a different tune in mind.  You cannot fool yourself--at least not for long.

Daylight saving time has a history.  Some will trace it back to the wit of Benjamin Franklin.  It was implemented during WWI as a cost-saving measure.
Poster titled "VICTORY! CONGRESS PASSES DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL" showing Uncle Sam turning a clock to daylight saving time as a clock-headed figure throws his hat in the air. The clock face of the figure reads "ONE HOUR OF EXTRA DAYLIGHT". The bottom caption says "Get Your Hoe Ready!"
"Whan the sunne shinth make hay"

It has come and gone and come again since then.  It resurfaced with WWII and again with the energy crisis of the 1970s.  By providing us with more hours of daylight, it leads to small savings in lighting bills.  It has been shown to reduce crime, but it also apparently cuts into the ratings of nightly shows--that is, until people have had a chance to recover.  

The change in clocks has its benefits as well as drawbacks.  It may prove helpful in terms of sun exposure and Vitamin D production, but it has also been shown in Sweden to lead to more heart attacks in its initial three days.  One might hope students would use that extra sunlight to study more, but reality often proves otherwise.  If there weren't the glowing devices of today, there would, doubtless, be the stick ball of the past to lure most students to the sunlight and away from their studies.  My dogs were lovin' their extra-early breakfast.  They, however, will have their doubts on All Saints Day when we resume the old schedule.

In conclusion, if you are off to work at what seems to be an unusually early hour this morning, remember, no matter what your clock says, it is an unusually early hour.  Exercise caution--just as you would with the icy roads of the past week.  And, if you feel no different, do take a glance at the time on your computer or your phone.  It has automatically updated, perhaps, you have not. 
"The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again..."

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