Daylight Saving Time, The Sleep Dilemma – E-book Excerpt

Turn Back the Clock2March 8, 2009

Daylight Saving Time – The Sleep Dilemma


Blame American Benjamin Franklin for germinating the idea, back in the late 1700s, that has become the annual torment of trying to get out of bed an hour earlier between March and November – the annual discomfort commonly referred to as “Daylight Saving Time” or DST (or incorrectly, Daylight Savings Time).

Save daylight time?

One grating message that weather forecasters and others foist on us unbelievers is that DST gives us an extra hour of daylight. That man has done what God cannot do is truly a miracle since to add an extra hour of daylight is to go beyond the current parameters of nature. In fact we experience greater hours of sunlight as a result of the rotational relationship between the Sun and the Earth, more precisely because the tilt of the Earth as it moves around the Sun results in greater exposure to the Sun at certain times over the course of a 12-month period. Living in the Northern Hemisphere means we experience increasing hours of sunlight as the year progresses from March through to June; thereafter the hours of sunlight begin once again to diminish. For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere the same occurrence can be observed from September to December. Such is the phenomenon.

 Turn Back the Clock2

Yet, there are those who would like to play at adding an extra hour of daylight; or just as absurdly, daylight saving.

There are a few things in this reality that can never be saved, no matter how we word it. One is time; you can use less of it or more of it, but time cannot be saved. The other is energy of any kind, and that includes light.

Perhaps a better term would be ‘annual time shifting’. Although by any name it is still an uncomfortable adjustment, not the least for people who struggle with sleep disorders, or those of us who are not ‘morning people’. While early birds and night owls generally adjust to the shift in waking time, it can take weeks for those who are not morning people to adjust. In the meantime, they are sleep deprived and function less well.

Further, the rate of heart attacks actually increases in the first few weeks following the movement of the clock one hour ahead. Driving while sleep deprived is also a problem. While parents worry about sending their children off to school in the dim light of dawn. A sensible farmer would ignore all this silliness since the sudden change in schedule would have an unsettling effect on their animals.

People living in parts of Northern Ontario – Pickle Lake, New Osnaburgh, and Atikokan for example – do not go through this annual adjustment. They are located in the Central Time Zone and are already one hour ahead, but the point is they do not have to struggle with the annual change. It’s the same in Northern Quebec and Saskatchewan where DST is not observed.

The rest of us now spend close to eight months – from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November – in this shifted time period when we have the maximum amount of sun exposure this region gets. So if the reason for the shift is to have more awake time during the sunniest part of the day, why not just maintain the time year round?

Historically it was the business sector that advocated for this annual change. Well, as the saying goes, what’s good for business is bad for people and vise versa.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at



Hello Reading Community,

Here is another of the selected columns included in my debut publication, In Through A Coloured Lens, currently available at As always, thank you for making time for these compositions.

Oct. 13, 2010

At Each Age, Its Own Virtues


Rushing to get somewhere last week in that stressed state we all recognize as a part of city life, there came a rhythmic chi-chip, chi-chip, chi-chip behind me along the sidewalk. Then, there she was, about eight years old, red jacket open to the wind, blue backpack not yet weighed down with the kind of responsibility that comes with the higher grades. And so endearing, with her two little afro puffs bouncing from side to side as she skipped along, making her way home, heading away from the nearby school. Skipping comes with being happy. And young.

Released from my stress by the sight of her little carefree self, without saying a word, I thanked her for reminding me of what it means to still be a child. For you know that if you saw someone five times her age chi-chipping along the sidewalk, knees bouncing up, arms swinging wildly in like manner you would wonder at his or her mental state. Jogging yes, but skipping? No.

It’s always a good idea to cover your milestones at the appropriate time; otherwise, the desire to engage in certain age-specific activities beyond the cutoff date will raise questions regarding mental or emotional well-being. Not only that, but not engaging in certain age-appropriate activities could in the end also mean a life not well lived.

On another day, in the subway, where so much of city life reveals itself, the clap-clap-clap coming from the hands of two little girls playing a familiar game reminded me of how strong oral tradition still is. Does anyone who every played a clapping game remember learning it from an adult? No classroom lesson ever passes ‘Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack’ from one generation of schoolgirls to the next, from one country to the next. Yet there they were in the after-school rush hour linking the present with the past, completely oblivious to any of that.

It is to be hoped that we all had our fair share of hours with Miss Mary Mack and the ‘salt-mustard-vinegar-pepper’ of the skipping rope at full speed. It was fun at recess time in elementary school and it is fun to be reminded. How would it be at this point to think of jumping rope as fun and not just something to do to keep our heart healthy, according to doctor’s orders?

A family member who is now in the university years recently lamented that she doesn’t enjoy getting mail as much as she used to when she was younger. Why? When very young people get mail, it usually means a birthday or Christmas card, or some other such joyous occasion. But past a certain age, the only things that come in the mail are bills to be paid. Or worse, reminders that bills are overdue.

Even so, who would turn back the clock if they could? Few indeed would trade experience for time. It’s enough on a nice fall afternoon to receive a little vicarious happiness from some young one skipping along on her own journey.