Tomorrow morning, at 2 AM

April 2, 2006 | 23 comments
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Once a year, after enduring a grueling six hours of church in one day, I lay down to sleep knowing that during the wee hours of the night I will be robbed of one whole hour. It is time to forever abolish Daylight Saving Time.

I must confess, I do love falling back. But I hate springing forward a lot more. Gaining a free hour once a year is simply no compensation for losing an hour once a year. A lot of other people I know feel the same way. Why is that? One explanation might be the status quo bias (derived from prospect theory). The basic idea is that we tend to value things more if we think of them as something we own, rather than something which we don’t. So, my resentment in April at losing an hour that is mine is greater than my gratefulness in October at gaining an hour as a gift. This suggests to me that there would be a lot of support for eliminating the system, so that we can all keep our hour in April instead of springing forward.

(Of course, another application of prospect theory might be that Americans have become used to the idea of daylight saving time, and would perceive its abolition as a loss. One thing prospect theory teaches is that the way any issue is framed or presented has a great impact on its popularity. So I am confident that this could be sold, one way or another.)

Daylight saving was, not as is commonly believed, instituted to help farmers. It was first enacted in the United States during the first world war, primarily to conserve energy. If people got up earlier, it was believed, they would use more natural light and less artificial light. Studies in the 1970s indicated that this resulted in Americans using about one percent less electricity each day, during daylight saving.

However, our lifestyles have changed dramatically since then. For one thing, our daily schedules have become less closely tied to the clock. Many more people are self-employed and make their own hours. For another thing, our useage of electric appliances is also less closely tied to the clock. For example, it is much more common now to have air conditioning running twenty-four hours a day during the summer, or in other words during daylight saving time. (And many more people have moved to the sun belt in recent decades.) More recent data suggests that the decline in electricity usage during daylight saving time is less than half a percent, or less. Even Kazakhstan has figured out that the economic benefits are insignificant.

Nevertheless, thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight saving time will begin thre weeks earlier and end one week later next year. Well, if we like it so much that we want to extend it, why not just extend it through to the whole year? We did it during World War II, when year-round daylight saving was referred to as “war time.” Or, we could just get up earlier. Right?

As for myself, I don’t really care which way they change it. I just want it to stop changing. One time, one world, one love. End the imperialist rule of morning people! ABOLISH DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME!

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23 Responses to Tomorrow morning, at 2 AM

  1. Dianna H. on April 2, 2006 at 9:30 am

    I live in Alaska. I’m serving a mission in St. Petersburg Russia. In both places daylight saving in the summer is a joke, we have almost 24 hours of daylight anyway. I vote with you, I would love to abolish daylight savings time. Permanently!

  2. Seth R. on April 2, 2006 at 9:36 am

    Yes, I think it’s stupid. Yes I’d like it abolished.

    No, it won’t happen anytime soon. People will surprise at the trivial, stupid things they will get passionate and fired up about and no politician wants to waste political capital on a reform that, while eminently sensible, is simply not crucial to her political future.

    Sheer inertia.

    That’s why we will continue to set back our clocks for years to come.

    Maybe you should switch to advocating for the metric system instead.

  3. Kim Siever on April 2, 2006 at 9:43 am

    Move to Arizona or Saskatchewan.

  4. John David Payne on April 2, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Did somebody say “metric system?”

  5. WillF on April 2, 2006 at 10:06 am

    If DST was abolished, how would we (or at least non-gen-conference observers) know when to change our smoke alarm batteries?

    But seriously– I am looking forward to one aspect of DST: more time to mow my lawn when I get home after my hour commute. In Indiana we finally joined the rest of the country this year in setting our clocks ahead, and I am looking forward to the later sunset.

    Another thing I look forward to is keeping the same time differential year round between my family out West and our home in Indiana. My parents gave up trying to remember if we were one or two hours ahead of them.

    I like the idea of making it permanent, but if we do, let’s do it as a NATION not state by state.

  6. Mark B. on April 2, 2006 at 10:09 am

    I had great hopes when I read your first sentence, hoping that daylight saving time had in fact been abolished–presumably sometime during that imaginary hour that disappeared into the ether last night at 2:00 a.m. But, alas, the hope I hung on that simple word “lay” (the past tense of the intransitive verb “lie”) was dashed yet again. No, you weren’t speaking of having lain down in the past etc. etc. You were simply joining with all the others of the great unwashed masses who can’t conjugate “lie”: and “lay.”

    And I was so hopeful that those wonderful summer mornings, light at 5:00, cool, quiet, solitary, were going to be extended an extra hour.

    When the sun’s at the meridian, it’s noon, doggonit. That’s what God decreed, and man should quit reaching forth his puny arms and tinkering with it.

  7. John David Payne on April 2, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Sorry I mixed up lay and lie. I try and make less of these mistakes then I used to. But its hard. I want to win the war, but somehow I seem to always loose.

  8. Proud Daughter of Eve on April 2, 2006 at 10:45 am

    Heck no! I lived in Japan for three years. Japan doesn’t have daylight saving time. Without daylight saving time, I never saw the sun! It was always, always full dark by the time I got home from work! Springing forward may be a pain but I’ll take it over the depression and vitamin deficiency of chronic lack of sunlight. There are more people than there were working from home and making their own hours but there are still more, vastly more, aren’t so lucky and whose main view of a sunny spring day is from an office window.

  9. meems on April 2, 2006 at 11:06 am

    Yes, PDoE, I lived in Japan for a number of years too, but wasn’t it wonderful to wake to a stream of sunshine at 4 AM in the summer?

  10. Dave on April 2, 2006 at 11:29 am

    Finally, something at T&S I can agree with! Yes, abolist DST, one of the dumbest ideas politicians ever came up with.

  11. Seth R. on April 2, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Proud Daughter,

    That’s a problem with Japan’s work ethic, not DST.

  12. Mike Parker on April 2, 2006 at 11:46 am

    John,

    As a fellow DST-hater, I enthusiastically recommend Michael Downing’s Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005). Downing shows that energy-saving claims of DST are widely believed, but completely unproven. He goes through the history of the movement, showing that it was not farmers who wanted DST (they actually hated the idea, as cows don’t know they need to be milked an hour earlier), but stock brokers and merchants, who wanted more time for the currency exchanges to remain open and more daylight for people to shop after work.

    Studies do show, however, that people die because of DST. Sleepy commuters crash their cars in the Spring and children walking to school in the dark in October are hit when crossing the street.

    This thing is a bane on our society, and should be done away with.

  13. Mike B on April 2, 2006 at 11:56 am

    The thing I hate about it is that when I forget to change the clocks, as I did this morning, I miss the first hour of conference. Fortunately, we’re taping it, so we can go back and listen.

  14. Kimball Hunt on April 2, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    One thing that will be permanent now is association of Daylight Savings Time with the proper conjugation of “to lie.”

    I googled to Bartleby.com references some “lay” colloquialisms to help us remember more formal usages:

    ( I. )

    To “Lie down!” should be the command of a show dog (not to “Lay down!”)

    ( I I . )

    To “play it as it lie” should be what a golfer in a Burberry cashmere must do (not to “play it as it lay”).

    ( I I I . )

    To not “lie down on the job” should be the corporate admonishment to (people in) suits (not to “not lay down on the job”).

    ( I V . )

    And then in the track on “Nashville Skyline,” monsieur Robert Zimmerman a/k/a Bob Dylan most definately should have requested of the gentlewoman–especially after his JUST having taken the voice lessons and trying out his mouth out at proper singin’–to “Lie, Lady, Lie…” (not “Lay, Lady, Lay…”).

    (Yet–and fittingly–a ne’er-do-well is still a “layabout”–‘caus if he were to be only a “lieabout” he wouldn’t be ne’er-do-well but just be idle rich, right?: A poor man’s weird, a rich one’s eccentric. And also a ship “lay” at anchor . . . bicuz if it were to “lie” at anchor such an element of “intransative verb -ness” would make the ship seem to lie on the ocean floor WITH the anchor!)

  15. Kimball Hunt on April 2, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    And the transitive, archaic usage–as in the poem that goes something ‘like,’ “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to God my soul to keep” is also correct.

  16. Proud Daughter of Eve on April 2, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Proud Daughter,

    That’s a problem with Japan’s work ethic, not DST.

    It had nothing to do with Japan’s work ethic and everything to do with clocks and the angles of the sun. There were two shifts I worked: 10am to 5:40pm and 1:20pm to 9pm. If I was lucky, the sun would finish setting while I was on the train. It was ALWAYS full night by the time I got home. So, considering that I often did get home, get dinner and get to bed until 11pm, I can’t say as I enjoyed full sunlight at 4am either.

  17. Proud Daughter of Eve on April 2, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Did *not* get home, that should say did not get home.

  18. Sarah on April 2, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Considering that time is altogether arbitrary and Mormons are terrible about showing up on time to things anyway, I say we abolish clocks. It’s all a silly contrivance that gets people either mad or killed, or if they’re very unfortunate both. If you really need to meet someone at a specific point during the day, use a stopwatch — but telling me it’s 7pm is utterly meaningless. It’s like saying one US dollar is worth two and a half British pounds or a Double Stack at Wendy’s… it’s only true because we all agree that it’s true. And in the case of time, it’s more like saying “one US dollar is worth two and a half British pounds in California, but in Texas you’ll have to trade it for Canadian money first, and in Ohio neither Canadian nor British currency is any good until you’ve converted your dollars to Japanese yen — except for six months out of the year, when you’ll need to trade for Canadian dollars in Nevada, yen in Texas, and rubles in Ohio… of course, in California, for those six months, it’ll be straight gold dust only. Though parts of Kentucky will follow Ohio’s rules for six months out of the year, and then switch to Texas rules the other six months…”

    In any case, if you homeschool and live off the land, you can disregard the whole matter quite easily.

    (a loss of even a single hours’ sleep makes me very grouchy.)

  19. Tanya Spackman on April 3, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Amen! On some random news program Saturday morning, they had a story on DST. Apparently, the number of fatal car accidents spikes the Monday after DST starts, presumably because people’s sleep patterns are disrupted and they are too tired. When I rule the planet, the time changes are the first thing I will abolish. I’ve already fallen asleep at my desk twice this morning.

  20. An on April 3, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    I think DST was actually instituted by a vast conspiracy against mothers of young children. Seriously, did anyone with little kids have a normal bedtime last night? Ours was awful!

    On the bright side, it always makes me think of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem I memorized when I was a young one myself: “In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candlelight/In summer quite the other way I have to go to bed by day …”

    Maybe I should make my kids memorize poems. Maybe then they would go to sleep.

  21. Starfoxy on April 3, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    I live in AZ and am happily enjoying keeping my hour of daylight. It seems like it really just a problem of connotation. To us 4AM is ridiculously early and 10pm isn’t late. We arbitrarily assign those values to those times of day. If we could get used to not associating specific times of day with lateness or earliness then daylight savings wouldn’t be a problem. I’m more in favor of making the official business day start an hour earlier than I am of making the official time of day change.

  22. josh on April 6, 2006 at 12:58 am

    You know, I’m all for perma-DST. Instead of bumping clocks forward and back and forward (ad nauseum), let’s just bump them foward to the DST values and keep them there. We’ll have our extra hour of sunlight.

  23. Nichole Keel on April 11, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    I whole heartedly agree that we should abolish DST. I am so tired of being tired for one full week afterward. I also agree that this is cruel and unusual punishment for children. My children were miserable!!!!