I know it’s spring when the first thing I hear in the morning is the chirping of birds outside my bedroom window. Bird songs are my favourite part of spring, especially after the silence that can be winter. Not that the silence cannot be beautiful in its own way, but that’s a topic I’m a bit late to write about.
Another mark of the beginning of spring is when daylight saving time begins. Daylight saving time; that lovely hour of sleep lost in the human attempt to efficiently match the hours of the day with the altering levels of sun exposure the Earth receives as it orbits around the sun (well actually, this statement changes for different parts of the world). Mind you, I’m not an astronomer so I cannot explain nor do I fully understand the history of daylight saving.
So I decided to Wiki it to learn get a basic idea. It turns out that there is a lot of controversy on the topic. Back when daylight saving time was first implemented, it was meant to be a means for which people could save fuel in the evenings, when incandescent lights were still the norm. There’s a lot of conflicting reports, however, as to whether or not it is actually worth the loss of sleep. Health-wise, daylight saving time causes a shift in a person’s circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock, which can take weeks to adapt. Here’s an interesting tidbit from ABC Science (previous link) about what one hour less of sleep can do:
They found that when Canada went into daylight saving in the springtime, there was an 8% increased risk of accidents on the Monday after the changeover.
But when people had one hour’s extra sleep (when they shifted out of daylight saving back into normal time), there was an 8% fewer risk of traffic accidents.
If there was a referendum to abolish daylight saving time, would you vote for or against it?
Personally, I really don’t know. I feel like you lose either way, be it sleep or daylight. Then again, summer quickly catches up and gives you plenty of light… Well, the days just get longer in general, really. So I’m quite torn. What I do know is that not all countries follow the practice, and they seem to be doing fine. It’s hard to judge how much we actually gain from the extra hour of light, as the original motives for enforcing the practice are quite outdated. Energy use and lifestyle have changed dramatically since it was adopted for the first time by Germany in 1916 to conserve coal during the first World War. The idea originally came from Benjamin Franklin, however, who suggested Parisians wake an hour earlier to “economize on candles” (see Wiki article linked above).