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posted by hubie on Sunday November 20, @12:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the gotta-wake-up-and-smell-the-collective-coffee dept.

Morning light helps keep our internal clocks on track. Daylight saving time throws that off:

Daylight saving time has ended, and most Americans have turned their clocks back an hour. My sixth-grader is in heaven.

At 6:50 a.m. these days, our once testy tween zombie is now ... moderately awake and relatively lucid.

Instead of rising to gauzy predawn light, she's got glowy morning sunshine beaming around her curtains. When she sets off for school, the sun has been up nearly a full hour. Just a 60-minute change has lightened both the morning and her mood. At breakfast today, I think I even spied a smile.

On November 6, every state in the United States except Hawaii and most of Arizona switched from daylight saving time, or DST, to standard time (those two states don't observe DST). That switch shifted an hour of light from the evening to the morning. In March, we'll move in the other direction when we "spring forward," trading morning light for brighter evenings.

The United States' biannual time change has been lighting up headlines since the U.S. Senate's unanimous vote in March to make daylight saving time permanent. The Sunshine Protection Act would forgo turning clocks to and fro, repeating an unpopular experiment Congress tried in the 1970s and prioritizing evening light throughout the year. But the health case for staying on daylight saving time is pretty dim. And what such a shift could mean for adolescents is especially gloomy.

Even the name "daylight saving time" isn't quite right, says Kenneth Wright, a sleep and circadian expert at the University of Colorado Boulder. There's no change in the amount of daylight, he says. "What we're doing is changing how we live relative to the sun." When we move our clocks forward an hour, noon no longer represents when the sun is near its highest point in the sky. Suddenly, people's schedules are solarly out of sync.

That's a big deal biologically, Wright says. Humans evolved with a daily cycle of light and dark. That sets the rhythms of our bodies, from when we sleep and wake to when hormones are released. Morning light, in particular, is a key wake-up signal. When we tinker with time, he says, "we're essentially making the choice: Do we want to go with what we've evolved with, or do we want to alter that?"

From a health perspective, if he had to rank permanent daylight saving time, permanent standard time or our current practice of biannual clock changing, Wright says, "I think the answer is incredibly clear." Permanent standard time is healthiest for humans, he says. In his view, permanent daylight saving time ranks last.


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Adam on Sunday November 20, @01:41PM (11 children)

    by Adam (2168) on Sunday November 20, @01:41PM (#1280670)

    Permanent daylight savings time and permanent regular time are effectively the same - people will adjust their business hours to whatever hours people are inclined to do their shopping or schooling or whatever. If we wanted kids to go to school when the sun is out, we've always had that option. If we're going to pick one, the one that puts the sun overhead at noon makes far more sense.

    Daylight savings time was/is all about consistently adjusting schedules across the nation to keep the days start time roughly in line with sunrise. Since sunrise is when people like to or are motivated to get up, that makes sense. Without it, businesses will either haphazardly adjust their operating hours twice annually, or they'll just be out of sync with when people want to do business. Neither are great options.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @01:50PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @01:50PM (#1280672)

      >Daylight savings time was/is all about consistently adjusting schedules across the nation to keep the days start time roughly in line with sunrise

      Granted Florida is an outlier, but here DST equates to commuting in the dark, and an extra hour of business for restaurants and bars which can pack full for sunset because everyone is off work early enough to get out before the sun goes down. IMO it sucks all around, but that has just led me into jobs where start and end hours are flexible, which is far more valuable to me than the number on the clock...

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
      • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Sunday November 20, @08:38PM (1 child)

        by Mykl (1112) on Sunday November 20, @08:38PM (#1280712)

        There is less value in Daylight Saving as you travel further toward the Equator, as dawn doesn't move enough through the year. By the time you hit the tropics, it's pointless. Florida should really just stick with non-DST.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @09:36PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @09:36PM (#1280719)

          Yeah, my first summer in NYC with the 4am sun streaming in the window was a shocker...

          --
          Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 20, @02:55PM (6 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 20, @02:55PM (#1280680) Journal

      Daylight savings time was/is all about consistently adjusting schedules across the nation to keep the days start time roughly in line with sunset.

      FTFY. Basically, it adjusts in a way that results in more daylight in the evening. I can't find the story, but way back when, I read that some supporters of DST were allegedly a "backyard barbeque" lobby.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @03:25PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @03:25PM (#1280682)

        That's essentially what the Senate legislation was about. This and other studies come to the conclusion that permanent standard time is the best for our bodies, but businesses, and probably a lot of people as well, prefer having some daylight at the end of the day for recreation and shopping.

        • (Score: 2) by Kell on Monday November 21, @06:55AM

          by Kell (292) on Monday November 21, @06:55AM (#1280764)

          I feel like the advent of electric lighting has made this concern less acute.

          --
          Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Sunday November 20, @08:49PM (2 children)

        by Mykl (1112) on Sunday November 20, @08:49PM (#1280713)

        This rationale (more daylight at the end of the day) has always annoyed me. Given that we have less daylight hours in winter, surely it would make more sense to apply Daylight Savings then in order to make more use of those meagre hours in the afternoon/evening? What happens instead in summer is that we get a 'double dose' of shifting time to get an extra hour as well as having more sunlight in the first place. Doesn't add up.

        What Daylight Saving _does_ do that makes sense is placing sunrise around the same general time throughout the year. As the days get longer, sunrise is shifted so that it occurs around about the same clock hour that it does in winter. This helps our circadian rhythms, which have evolved to work around dawn (much as dairy farmers do regardless of what the clock says).

        • (Score: 3, Touché) by ChrisMaple on Monday November 21, @05:19AM (1 child)

          by ChrisMaple (6964) on Monday November 21, @05:19AM (#1280761)

          In the northern contiguous U.S., sunrise and sunset each shift by at least 4 hours from solstice to solstice. No one-hour shift can make up for that.

          • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday November 21, @06:24AM

            by Mykl (1112) on Monday November 21, @06:24AM (#1280763)

            In the northern contiguous U.S., sunrise and sunset each shift by at least 4 hours from solstice to solstice. No one-hour shift can make up for that.

            To be pedantic, it's _up to_ 4 hours depending on your latitude, but point taken. Daylight Saving mitigates the (up to) 4 hour shift without completely eliminating it.

      • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Monday November 21, @10:20AM

        by Nuke (3162) on Monday November 21, @10:20AM (#1280781)

        I read that some supporters of DST were allegedly a "backyard barbeque" lobby.

        Summer time has been a thing in the UK long before anyone had even heard of the word "barbeque". The ability to do things in the evening for longer in daylight is a more likely explanation, like digging the vegtable patch after work, as many people did in those days.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday November 21, @04:25AM

      by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 21, @04:25AM (#1280756)

      Daylight savings time was/is all about consistently adjusting schedules across the nation to keep the days start time roughly in line with sunrise.

      Not really: If our only goal was to keep the day's start time roughly in line with sunrise, we'd just do that. Or at the very least, use local noon to center our days. The reason we don't do this is that large-scale industry that needs to communicate over long distances finds this inconvenient.

      Also worth mentioning here is that the question of which time zone you're in is often much more about politics than it is about the sun. For example, at the border between China in the far west and their neighbors Pakistan and Tajikistan, time jumps 3 hours. That's not a reflection of solar anything, that's a reflection of the fact that the Chinese Communist Party didn't want to have separate time zones in their country so they just didn't and instead picked one time for their entire country. Or in Galicia, Spain, the time is an hour ahead of GMT despite being significantly west of Greenwich, because that enables them to have the same time zone as most of the rest of the EU.

      It's a big complicated mess, and if you really want to go on a journey about it, read some of the files that are part of the IANA time zone database, the comments will explain in great detail in some cases what's going on with a particular time zone and why.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 20, @01:45PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 20, @01:45PM (#1280671)

    There was a stretch of years that I kept 10-6 office hours, mostly to dodge rush hour traffic. But, if the time change becomes year round, how long do you think it will take society to adjust their working clocks to compensate?

    I acknowledge that some institutions are too mired in their procedures to make an adjustment like that, but a large portion of society isn't, and when shoppers stop showing up for the first hour of business because it's too dark for them, business will adjust.

    Take it two or three cycles further, DST+3, who wouldn't like to go in to work at 12, even if the sun is barely up?

    --
    Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/878601.html Слава Україні 🌻
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @03:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, @03:36PM (#1280683)

    And the time zone table in Unix, again...

    I still use a WWVB self-setting clock, I threw the last ones out when Congress screwed with the dates
    in recent memory.

    At work, I bought one that syncs with NTP, but that assumes wifi and who knows how secure the firmware
    is. They are also expensive.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by theluggage on Sunday November 20, @04:07PM (2 children)

    by theluggage (1797) on Sunday November 20, @04:07PM (#1280685)

    Instead of rising to gauzy predawn light, she's got glowy morning sunshine beaming around her curtains. When she sets off for school, the sun has been up nearly a full hour.

    Different pros and cons at different locations.

    Here in the UK we've been back on standard time for 3 weeks or so - where I am sunrise is 07:36 and sunset about 16:06 so for most of the winter people would be getting up in the dark, traveling to work/school at the crack of dawn and coming home in the dark however much you dick around with the clock. For much of the summer, without DST, sunrise would be around 3-5AM standard time, and putting the clock forward an hour still means getting up in daylight. Personally I'd vote for "permanent DST" - YMMV (especially if you live in Scotland) but even permanent GMT would avoid the biannual does of jet lag and the sudden whammy of dark evenings in October. When theres such a wide variation, changing only really makes a practical difference for a month or so around the equinoxes.

    Really, I think we just need either more time zones or more flexible working/business hours (much easier with modern tech).

    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Sunday November 20, @07:20PM

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 20, @07:20PM (#1280706) Journal

      Up here in the sticks, in the north of Scotland, there's precious little daylight at this time of year. It gets dark early in the afternoons and sunrise isn't until well after breakfast. However, in the summer the sky never quite gets properly dark at night. I really don't like the clocks changing for DST. Having said that, I sometimes think we should just leave the clocks as they are but agree to start work earlier and work longer in the days with more light. I find myself getting very tired when the daylight hours are short. It's a real struggle to keep going through winder solstice.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by fab23 on Sunday November 20, @10:16PM

      by fab23 (6605) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 20, @10:16PM (#1280723) Homepage

      As far as I know, whole Europe changed back from DST on 30. October this year. At my location before the change the twilight started at around 18:00 (for non-metric readers 6pm), but after the change it already started at 17:00 (for non-metric readers 5pm). This affects a lot of things, e.g. on Friday evening when you leave work and drive home it still was not fully dark, then on Monday you drive home at the same time and it already is completely dark. I don't have a source, but in this first week after the time change more accidents happen.

      At least in Europe originally the idea of DST was to conserve electricity as you would need less time to turn the light on at home. But studies showed that there was no measurable difference in usage. EU is currently in the process of getting rid of DST, and as far as I know countries are free to choose their time zone. And in Switzerland (not in the EU, but in Europe) of course the people will have to vote about this change, as they did back in the Eighties. Switzerland was a time island in the middle of Europe not having DST for one year.

      So we will see how complicate the time zone will be distributed in Europe in the next few years.

      But maybe all this does not matter, as some people are already thinking about only one time zone on the whole planet. In the article The leap second’s time is up: world votes to stop pausing clocks [nature.com] they talk about getting rid of the leap second, as there could be a negative one in the future, as the earth rotates faster (see also What Is a Negative Leap Second? [timeanddate.com]). And at the end of the article they also mention this:

      Or they might not bother, Arias adds. When the difference becomes big enough, countries could permanently shift their legal time zone by one hour, she says. Or we could even decouple our sense of time from the Sun entirely, to create a single world time zone in which different countries see the Sun overhead at different times of day or night. “It could be a solution,” she says. “Science already doesn’t use local times, we talk in UTC.”

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by krishnoid on Sunday November 20, @05:33PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday November 20, @05:33PM (#1280693)

    Joe Rogan also did a podcast episode recently with Matthew Walker [smashnotes.com] (from 93:40):

    I could also speak about your cardiovascular system, though, and all it takes is one hour because there is a global experiment that's performed on 1.6 billion people across 70 countries twice a year, and it's called daylight savings time. Now. In the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks. What in the fall. In the autumn, when we gain an hour sleep, there's a 21% decrease in heart attacks. So it's bi directional. That's how fragile and vulnerable your body is, too. Even just the smallest perturbation

    The episode was so engaging and informative that I've listened to the whole two-hour episode end-to-end multiple times. I highly recommend it if you want to catch up with the current research-based understanding of sleep.

  • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Monday November 21, @10:14AM

    by Nuke (3162) on Monday November 21, @10:14AM (#1280780)

    Instead of rising to gauzy predawn light, she's got glowy morning sunshine beaming around her curtains. When she sets off for school, the sun has been up nearly a full hour....At breakfast today, I think I even spied a smile.

    What a load of BS. It depends on the person whether they feel better about it or not. Mrs Nuke is an early morning person, wakes instantly and jumps out of bed whatever the light. OTOH I'm a late night person and for me mornings are terrible, whatever the light.

  • (Score: 2) by j-beda on Monday November 21, @02:08PM

    by j-beda (6342) on Monday November 21, @02:08PM (#1280803) Homepage

    This article actually isn't about DST vs SST - it's about school hours.

    A whole bunch of conversation around this this topic is framed as "Dark/light is good/bad for these people/activities for these events/situations - therefore we should change the clock twice per year."

    This is as stupid AF.

    The first part ""Dark/light is good/bad for these people/activities for these events/situations" may very well be true, and even very important. The second part is what is stupid.

    Pick a time zone and adjust the time of the activities to match the optimal position of the sun rather than arbitrary numbers on the clock. If the school kids need to adjust their school hours, then do that rather than make the entire nation adjust their hours.

    Perhaps China and India have implemented a national time zone stupidly - requiring everyone to start and stop activities simultaneously across the country, but that isn't required you know.

    If kids operate better when school starts a bit after dawn - then set the school starting time in your district a bit after dawn! Don't set dawn to be a bit before the school staring time!

    Please just stop changing the clocks annually!

  • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday December 02, @06:18PM

    by istartedi (123) on Friday December 02, @06:18PM (#1280952) Journal

    This is not a popular idea and I'm not necessarily sure I'd be for it, but consider that time zones are the real issue here. We only got time zones in the USA because 19th century railroads had a hard time making sane train schedules without them. Prior to that, the big clock in the town square wasn't just decoration. It actually mattered. It chimed, people set their watches by it, and it varied from town-to-town.

    It seems like the modern world might be able to handle a return to the status quo ante railroad with appropriate technology. One UTC that never changes, for all the machines and devices that need it, like trains, air navigation systems, computer networks, etc. Everybody else could use "town time" and our modern devices could even pick up a local signal and automatically compute the offset for us. Then the local school district, at the county level could decide when to send the kids to school, instead of people at the western or eastern edges of a vast "one time fits all" zone getting frustrated.

    Even the metric people don't use Kelvins for weather. They use Celcius because it's a better fit for people, so the notion of one simple number for science/machines and a number tailored for humans is already baked in to a lot of systems.

    Like I said though, it's not a popular idea so I know I'm just fantasizing here.

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