Janet Sheridan: Our times of madness
I hate daylight savings time and the Uniform Time Act that created it. Due to legislative action taken in the 60s — an era not know for its level-headedness — twice a year I find myself scurrying around the house, fumbling with clock controls and trying to remember whether to spring forward or fall back. By the time I manage to reset all of our clocks, pinpoint accuracy no longer matters. If the timepieces and electronic displays are within fifteen minutes of each other, I declare victory, sit down, put my feet up and think bad thoughts.
I’m not the only person made crazy by this uncalled-for, semi-annual commotion. The minute the media reminds us to adjust our clocks before going to bed, a national cry of complaint resounds from sea to shining sea: “They need to quit messing with the time!”
Last fall, hoping for a revolution, I Googled daylight savings time and found numerous calm, reasonable people who argued that, over the years, changing our clocks has failed to increase productivity, decrease energy costs or delight farmers. Uninterested in polite debate, I continued searching for fellow fanatics spewing rage, but didn’t find any. Disappointed, I gave up on fomenting a rebellion against daylight savings time and began reading about adjusting to it instead.
I read the advice of various experts who said if I don’t want my sleep disrupted when the time changes, I should eliminate caffeine and increase my intake of vitamin D and melatonin while thinking pleasant thoughts. Furthermore, before bedtime, I should avoid light from electronics, eat a healthy snack, take a warm bath and sip chamomile tea.
I’d have to start getting ready for bed at twilight to manage this bevy of bedtime routines.
I was cheered by the quantity of advice I found, however, because it told me I’m not alone in my hatred of daylight savings time. We wouldn’t need tips on adjusting if everybody greeted the news of a pending time change by joyously exclaiming, “Oh goody, I get to adjust my clocks today; and if I forget, or do it incorrectly, then tomorrow I can be early, or late, and sleep-deprived.”
Moving on from the advice-givers, I continued Googling and came across a national survey by Rasmussen Reports in the spring of 2010. There I read that 83 percent of the survey respondents knew when to move their clocks ahead, but 27 percent didn’t and had been an hour late to events, appointments or work as a result. “It’s confusing,” a Wall Street broker complained — which may explain the problems our national financial institutions habitually experience.
It was comforting to discover I’m not the only person to stand red-faced amidst indulgent chuckles because I’m an hour late; but in my case, it might be genetic. My mom and dad, bright people, once went to church on a lovely fall day an hour early. When no one showed up, they thought they’d confused Saturday for Sunday. So they drove home, changed out of their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and worried about their mental acuity until Mom remembered they had forgotten to fall back.
Continuing my online research, I found this bit of alarming news: a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that “The risk of heart attack surges by ten percent on the Monday and Tuesday following the time change each spring.”
My question: Is the heart-attack surge due to (A) our disrupted sleep (B) the stress of remembering when and how to make the time adjustment (C) our anger at the inanity of the entire exercise, or (D) our physical exertion when searching up and down and in the lady’s chamber to find all our damn clocks.
For me, the correct answer is (E) all of the above.