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Saving daylight savings (lighting up your life – 1/28/11)

January 28, 2011

Thieves of Time

People don’t get enough light in their lives.  They really really become distressed when governments take sunlight away from them – rather like officials increasing the tax on air.

The politics of daylight time are heating up.

Scotland

The most recent example of public unhappiness is Scotland.  Attempts to make daylight savings consistent throughout the three centuries old  “United Kingdom” are being met by strenuous refusals throughout the Highlands.  Watching the sun dip into the horizon at 3 PM is bad enough, but having bureaucrats in London tell honest Scotsmen that they won’t get to see the sun until 10 AM is downright damnable – it’s almost worth fighting the battle of Culloden all over again.

And that battle of 1746 was followed six years later, on September 3, 1752, by riots throughout the British Isles.  September 3rd was also September 14th. People fought the constables and the state, demanding back the 11 days taken from their lives by the new Julian calendar.

Governments have been stealing time from their citizens for centuries.

Time and Light

Time rules life.  Inner time is set by light.

Body clocks change everything we do.  They reset all our systems; synchronize them; shift our performance measures; make it all work.  Among other things they

Change immunity

Change mood

Change performance

Then there’s the fact that the Earth is filled with very different people – larks and owls, morning and night people.  With so much of a northern population prone to seasonal depression, light in the day is a personal issue for many.

So no matter where the time-light zones are drawn, someone will be uncomfortable – and in the more extreme northern and southern regions of the world, lots of people will feel very uncomfortable.

And then there’s the issue of money.

Iran

The politics of daylight can get bizarre – witness Iran.

Some years ago President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with characteristic religious fervor, declared daylight savings unIslamic.

The result – chaos.  No one knew the right time in the airports.  Planes did not know when to leave.  Trade stalled.  Traffic choked the streets.

And the economists in the bureaucracy pointed out that getting rid of daylight savings would cost the country $3 billion a year.

The then unduly elected leader of the nation admitted his error.  Daylight savings would return – except for schoolchildren.  The example of  schoolkids, like those in Scotland, waiting for the school bus in the dismal dark, was the reason Ahmadinejad declared daylight savings would remain off limits for students.

This time the result was traffic choking the streets.  Economic chaos as mothers left work an hour early to pick up their kids.

Daylight savings returned to the Islamic Republic.

What To Do

Light is too important to not cause political and economic fights.  Yet ministries throughout the world have reluctantly come to the same conclusion – daylight savings saves money.  It makes transport and communication easier.  Hard as the shift is for many, the economic and social results outweigh the difficulties of the minority.

So the answer for most of us is to live with the light we have.  Shifts brought on by daylight savings are like those borne by shiftworkers – who still make up a quarter of the working population.

We can adapt to time changes through shifting exposure to light – especially sunlight.   Morning light makes your  inner day shorter; evening light makes it longer.  Add in physical activity, and much of the population really does adjust to the new time of dawn  (sleep disorder patients may represent a large exception.)

And for those who can’t stand the idea of different times of day for rising and sleeping, there is the example of China.  Everywhere in the People’s Republic, from Tibet to Manchuria to Hainan, runs on Beijing time.

Whether one likes it or not, time really does rule.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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