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Blog Feature

By: Richard Rosenberg, PhD on March 7th, 2017

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Grumpy Old Man and Daylight Savings Time

daylight savings time

daylight savings time

Not a big fan of Arizona. Went to APSS when it was in Phoenix years ago and the soles of my shoes melted because the sidewalk was so hot. I kinda like the grumpy old “mavericky” senator sometimes. And maybe the airplane graveyard outside of Tucson. And the food. And the cacti are cool. OK, maybe I like it more than I thought. The best reason for liking Arizona may be that they do not go along with this Daylight Savings Time (DST) business. Good for them.

Daylight Savings Time and Ben Franklin 

daylight savings time and ben franklin

Legend has it that DST was first proposed by Ben Franklin to save money on candles. Really. I think we’re past that candle business now. And Franklin – I don’t trust the guy. I think all that stuff about the kite and electricity was made up. Did you know that an 18th century Russian scientist named Georg Wilhelm Richmann tried to replicate the kite thing? Lightning struck the kite, travelled down the cord and killed poor Richmann. How did Franklin survive? I think he made the whole thing up.


Inevitability of Daylight Savings Time


Despite multiple attempts to get rid of it, DST persists in most of the US and in many countries around the world. This Sunday, March 12th, we will all wind our alarm clocks and turn them forward one hour before going to bed. Actually, we won’t. We’ll let our iPhones and Androids tell us that we’ve experienced a time shift. And we’ll try unsuccessfully to remember how to change the clock on the microwave, refrigerator and cars, deciding in the end to just let it be wrong until the fall.


Since it’s going to happen (except in Arizona), what can we do? Should we find a safe place to increased accidents and robberies during daylight savings timewait it out, like the Purge, and hope that it’s not all carnage and wasteland when we venture outside again? And there will be carnage – the frequency of accidents and robberies goes up on “Spring Forward” weekend. Most likely you will have to work and brave the streets either on the way home or on the way to work on Monday morning. So, like every other article about DST, here are some tips for getting through the change:


  1. Put some sleep time in the bank. This is a great idea but typically impractical. Add an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning? Good luck with that. The kids will wake you up or the dog will need to go out and you’ll be grateful to get your usual amount of sleep.                             
  2. Start shifting your sleep schedule the week before the time change. Use your circadian rhythm expertise and add some strategically timed bright lights early in the morning. But how will you know what is going on in the world unless you stay up and watch Colbert?               
  3. Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol and all that partying stuff. Not sure this helps for DST but it’s something that’s always part of sleep tips. It’s the part that everyone ignores.                          
  4. Read some tips for surviving night shifts from Cynthia Mattice. She has survived a bunch of night shifts. And daylight savings time shifts. I won’t tell you how many.                                          
  5. Listen to my Journal Club on sleep in pre-industrial societies. They don’t have DST. They don’t even have electricity. And they only sleep 6 ½ hours per night. If they can do it, we can do it.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  6. Drive defensively. And wear sensible shoes.


Hopefully by next year we’ll come to our senses and get rid of this Daylight Savings Time thing. The only good thing about it is the extra hour of sleep we get when it’s over. And we must wait until November for that to happen.

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