It’s that magical time of year again. We’ve set our clocks back to standard time.
While it’s nice that our children are no longer waiting on their school bus in the dark, we are forced to navigate our way home from work using our cars headlights. The extra hour of sleep we get that one Saturday night hardly seems worth it. To top it off, our circadian rhythm doesn’t adjust for several weeks so we still wake an hour before the clock says it’s time.
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Just about the time our bodies adjust to the new standard of sunrise, here comes Thanksgiving. The huge quantities of tryptophan we ingest with our Thanksgiving dinner force us to sleep before halftime at the big game on TV. Then comes “Black Friday” which has morphed into shopping after dinner on Thursday. We can’t possibly think of sleeping with the sale of the century happening just after midnight.
There’s a popular rumor that Daylight Savings Time was the result of giving the country’s farmers an extra hour. With the clocks “set forward” in the spring their children could help with the agricultural duties after they got home from school.
In fact, those who study such matters tell us that saving energy for the war effort in World War I was the most likely scenario. Germany started DST in 1916, followed by Great Britain shortly thereafter. The U.S. entered the war effort late and commenced moving clocks forward in 1918.
Aside from energy savings, after the war, economics have sustained DST. With daylight after regular work hours people tend to shop a bit longer. Outdoor activities can continue, professional and amateur alike. Baseball teams don’t need lights for the second game of a double header. Golfers can get in a quick nine after work. There’s even the thought that the extra activity afforded by more light in the evening might make us all healthier.
But that one extra hour of sleep we got this past weekend is still a small reward for the sun setting in the middle of the afternoon.