Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Lifestyles

March 13, 2011

Daylight savings time robs extra sleep

BLUEFIELD — Tiny green buds are shooting up in the flower bed. Birds are chirping in the morning hours. Spring is here, sort of. Yes, the days might be getting longer and there is enough daylight in the evenings to run errands. But Old Man Winter won’t go down without a fight. Life in the two Virginias is as unpredictable as Charlie Sheen, both are out of control these days. Rain or snow? Or maybe both, according to many weather forecasts during the month of March. Last Sunday, I didn’t know it was snowing until I opened the front door, ready for church in high heels. Oops. Back to boots. But I couldn’t find my gloves, hat or scarf. Where was the ice scraper?

 I am in limbo between winter and spring. So, I have a raincoat, umbrella, shovel and ice scraper — just in case. I am ready for the unexpected, but not ready for the expected arrival of daylight savings time. I knew it was coming. In the middle of an unpredictable month, daylight savings time is the only thing constant and stable. Yet, I am not very happy about losing an hour of sleep. In fact, I am completely annoyed with the time change. I have come to adore that extra hour of sleep. Why take it away? In an Associated Press  article, sleep experts said millions of people are affected by the return of daylight savings each year. So why do we keep messing around with the clocks? The article explains the reasons behind the fall back and spring forward switch.

 In 1784, Benjamin Franklin suggested the idea to conserve candles. Well in 1784 there were no TVs, ipods, cell phones or game systems. I can’t imagine any early settler staying up late to play the latest Xbox game. They probably liked their extra hour of sleep, especially since they had to work in the fields all day. I bet they weren’t too keen on Franklin’s idea. But then again, some might have appreciated the extra daylight, which extended the work day. During World War I, daylight saving time was introduced in America. After the war, it was lifted and implemented by local governments. But it wasn’t mandatory and some states and towns had different times and dates. Talk about confusion. What would happen in the two Virginias if daylight savings time was not universal? Eventually, the U.S. government demanded states to have the same start and end date for daylight savings. It begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that do not have daylight savings time.

As a child, daylight savings time seemed fascinating; I looked forward to the annual ritual because I thought it was a holiday. I remember following my parents around the house before bed on Saturday night. But I was slightly confused. Weren’t we supposed to switch the clocks at 2 a.m.? The AP article said the 2 a.m., switch was designed by the federal government. Most figured that residents would be home at 2 a.m., not at restaurants or other public places. They also didn’t want to impact churches and early shift workers. But as a child, I really thought someone should get up at 2 a.m., change the clocks and go back to sleep. It sounded a lot more fun than roaming around the house at 10 p.m., looking for clocks and alarms. The next morning, I would climb out of bed, excited, but not really sure why or how I was suppose to feel the day after daylight savings time. I wanted a celebration. Did a basket or gift come with the time change?

Today, I know how I am supposed to feel. Tired and exhausted. Where is the childhood excitement? It’s gone, just like the extra hour of sleep. Experts claim you can prepare for daylight savings by going to sleep 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes sooner than usual. The experts might be right, but I disagree. My theory? Sleep as much as you can before any daylight saving time. And today, take a nap. You deserve it. It might snow next week and you need all the rest you can get, especially if you have to shovel.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com.

 

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