Daylight Savings Time by author and public speaker Tony Candela

Daylight Savings Time by author and public speaker Tony Candela

Daylight Saving Time

 

By Tony Candela

 

Copyright March 2023

 

 

I began writing this essay on the Ides of March, one day after Pi day (3.14…) and women’s equal pay day which we note to keep pressure on employers to make compensation fairer for everyone. I finish this draft on St. Patrick’s Day, an iconic holiday in New York City. A few of my Irish-American friends refer to it as “amateur day” because of excessive drinking by so many people who cannot handle their alcohol. The holiday celebrates Irish culture and a patron saint; sober revelry, including beverages like Irish coffee containing only whipped cream and Guinness 0, is on the rise.

 

Just a few days ago, we sprung ahead, or at least our clocks did.

 

We are now in daylight saving time. This is when it stays lighter later into the evening and for a while, darker in the morning during commuter and going-to-school time. People are happy because they think there is more sunshine each day, but there isn’t. The sunlight is simply shifted to the latter part of the day.

 

Once again, the hubbub around the time-change has arisen. Should we make daylight saving time permanent, keep switching times twice per year, or make standard time permanent? I vote for making standard time permanent. Due to a progressive eye condition, I cannot see anything more than a hint of light these days. Thus, because it doesn’t affect me very much, I won’t fall on my sword on this issue, but I will try to fairly lay out the arguments. Subjective experience being most difficult to explain, the last of my low-vision having ebbed about 20 years ago, somehow it seems to me that I still experience daylight and darkness. This may be the result of time of day and surrounding activity level or perhaps a few lingering rods in my retina. Perhaps it is years of acclimation, a most difficult habit to shake. I don’t know for sure, but if I have unwittingly retained a nostalgia for those late summer days so many years later, the feeling must be pretty strong for those who still experience it.

 

When I was younger, I enjoyed brighter evenings as much as anyone. It was fun as a kid to run around until nine o’clock, especially in the summer when there was no school, sleeping later into the morning. Thus, we managed not to lose too much sleep. That does not seem to be the case these days for most teenagers who suffer from sleep deprivation due to a variety of factors, among them being the lit screens of electronic devices they use so much. Adding later daylight to the mix makes things worse.

 

How did it come to pass that we undertake a time-change twice per year? It wasn’t the same for time zones. They became a practical necessity once rapid east-west travel was made possible by rail service and the telegraph quickened communications to the speed of electrons. Springing ahead and falling back an hour was introduced under duress. During WWI  saving power and fuel and strangely, promoting after-work shopping, became desirable. The practice was non-uniform after WWI, standard and daylight-saving time not being enacted into Law in the U.S. until 1966 with the uniform Time Act. During the oil crisis of the mid-70s, a 2-year experiment was implemented that made daylight saving time the year-round practice. The experiment was cut short due to parental concern about the safety of their children going to school in the dark. Last year, The Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act which then stalled in the House. The Act would make daylight saving time the year-round standard. Others, most notably the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), argue that we should keep standard time the year-round constant. Biological rhythms and overall health, they state, are negatively affected when people are too active and awake later into the evening than is good for our bodies which evolved to keep time with the natural rotation of the Earth.  Circadian rhythms are important for overall health, governing the timing of almost every cell in the body. Even blind people have gotten into the act. Reactions to loss of sight by various subgroups of blind people vary from no effect at all to Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. The differing reactions have garnered the attention of many scientists. Until recently, the theory was that visible light  governs circadian rhythms. But now there is evidence that light stimulates cells in the retina that do not pertain to vision. If they are intact and regardless of visual status, these specialized retinal cells invigorate the suprachiasmatic nucleus and other brain structures that comprise our “master circadian clock.” This is what tells us when to sleep and when to be awake. Proper amounts of sleep influences our overall bodily and mental functioning including among other things, hunger, temperature-control, migraine pain, mood, how we learn, and even our generosity and desire to help others, something we all rely upon from time to time.

 

The AASM asserts that springing forward is associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, increased hospital admissions due to atrial fibrillation, and increased emergency room visits and missed medical appointments. In the first few days after springing ahead, Traffic accidents, mood disturbances, and suicide appear to go up. Sleep is disturbed because of the misalignment of natural circadian rhythms with altered social rhythms. Teenagers and shift workers, chronically sleep-deprived, are most effected. For these reasons and more, it seems most wise to keep us on standard time all year long.

 

Returning to time zones for a moment and hopefully apropos of something, the European Space Agency would like to give the moon its own time zone. Coordination is key among those sending spacecraft and people to the moon. Currently, time on the moon is judged by each country. This is akin to what we are doing on Earth when one country, State, or territory stays on standard time while others shift to daylight saving time. Moreover, the method we use to measure the second, the basic unit of time, which currently vexes earthbound chronometers, will be important for not only how we measure time, but also gravity, mass and more. Cesium atom vibrations are giving way to optical methods that increase accuracy by several orders of magnitude. This is important not only here on Earth, but for the functioning of GPS, military, and communications satellites and also for how we will function on the moon, Mars, and beyond.

 

More mundane is the programming that has gone into so many of our electronic technologies. Computers and other devices connected to the internet take their time-cue from signals sent to them from standard sources. The same goes for those pesky atomic clocks and watches that pick up a signal over the air in most places in the world. (In my experience, one has to try a few times before the time properly resets itself, but I digress.) The good news is that if we lock into either standard or daylight-saving time, older devices will not need manual resetting quite as often.

 

Although I vote for all-year standard time, the fact that most of the untoward events described above don’t affect me very much makes mine a less fervent argument than many I have made in this forum. It does seem like most people are happy to have daylight later into the evening. Perhaps this is because the shift is associated with warming temperatures and the summertime. Daunting as it will be to buck up against these associations, I suggest that settling into a standard time scheme won’t be as hard to adjust to as people think, if only they would give it a chance. The summertime association can wither away, children can be better protected for the time they may have to travel to school in the dark, and  a new normal can take hold. I predict that this would occur after only one or two annual cycles. Thus, a year or so after a new Law might go into effect, we would probably wonder why it took so long to end the fuss.

 

Anthony R. Candela, Author

 

Saying aloud what should not remain silent.

 

*** Anthony Candela is a sponsor of TTW Marketing Services.

 

AD: Books by Anthony R. Candela

 

By Anthony R. Candela

Christian Faith Publishing, 2019

Vision Dreams: A Parable

Anthony's book cover for Vision Dreams: A Parable: A Black background with the iris of an eye. The iris has dark blue edges, lighter neon blue inside of that, a light green color inside that, then gradually darker green as you near the center of the eye. The pupil is black. Around the eye is a luminescent blue light. The title and byline of the book are centered at the top of the cover in silvery block letters shaded like an eclipse. "Vision Dream" is in the largest font with "A Parable" beneath it with lines on either side of the words to center it. Above the title is the name of the Author.

This is a sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.

This novella increases our understanding of what it means to live in a society that is supportive of its citizens’ daily happiness and humanity. Perhaps after reading it you will be more on guard against what can happen when nations decide to be hyper-vigilant. As the plot unwinds, you will see the lengths to which people will go to achieve their humanity. In the midst of the subtle kinds of strife that leads many to live lives of quiet desperation, there are heroes willing to take risks.

Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy

A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports.

The story related in these pages will occasionally give you cause to chuckle or even shed tears of sadness or joy. Above all else, it will enlighten you about why things happen the way they do. Ultimately, this memoir increases our understanding of what it means to be truly human. Perhaps after reading it we will be kinder and gentler to each other. Most importantly, perhaps we will be kinder and gentler to ourselves.

About the Author

Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar.

 

Learn lots more about Tony on his author Website here.

*** Note***

Vision Dreams: A Parable is now available on Audible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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