BY PAM LOBLEY
NOW THAT’S FUNNY
Spring ahead! That is, set your clocks one hour ahead Saturday night. And then just try to get your kids in bed on time on Sunday.
The good news is that it is going to stay light later now, which is great for our moods, great for evening traffic, great for cocktails on the patio. The bad news is it’s party time for the kids, who will start wanting to go outside and play after dinner no matter how much homework is left to do, and who will not be able to fall asleep early with the light peeking through their shades.
I remember my oldest as a toddler, awake in his crib at around 7:30 p.m., when he would normally be sleeping, but instead he was standing and pointing to the window, shouting, “Mommy, dat the daytime!”
I hate springing ahead. I don’t want to lose another hour of sleep. I’ve lost so much sleep already: to pregnancies, infants, sick children, anxieties, and now, mid-life hormones. Do I really need to give up another hour for some clock change? Sure, I’ll try to go to bed at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, but I’ll still wake up early, because, even though I’ve explained to the dog many times about DST, he still doesn’t understand it, and he just wants to go out.
A few years ago the pressure started to change your smoke alarm batteries every time you change your clocks. Good idea, except that setting the clocks forward and back used to be spaced a pretty reliable six months apart. Then they changed DST again, so now we set them in November and March. What if my batteries expire in August?
The federal government does not require states to participate in DST, and Arizona and Hawaii are two states that choose not to do so. It’s interesting to me that most states just automatically accept it. You can find studies that say DST is an energy saver, and studies that say it is an energy waster. There are studies that show that DST promotes healthy lifestyles (because people go outside and are active rather than staying in watching TV), and there are studies that show DST messes up our circadian rhythms and causes us to be more exhausted, even creating a slight increase in heart attack risks. There seems to be no clear consensus about the positive influences of DST.
Imagine if Governor Christie decided that New Jersey was going to opt out. He’s just the sort of stubborn free thinker that would try it. We would be our own little time zone in the middle of the east coast. You could leave your office in New York City at 6 p.m., and after driving an hour to get home to New Jersey, it would still be 6 p.m.! At 6 p.m. you could watch the 7 o’clock news, because the news would be broadcast from New York, where it was 7 o’clock. Airline flights would be screwed up, nobody would know what time to get to Giants Stadium for a game or concert, and The Situation wouldn’t know when to start binge drinking.
However, New Jersey school children might start to improve their scores because they were spending more time indoors studying, instead of outside playing like their New York prolonged-daylight counterparts. Once the ASK scores went up, that would be it. Every state in the nation would ditch DST in a frantic attempt to improve their schools without spending money.
A Rasmussen poll in 2009/10 found that 47% of people would just as soon get rid of DST, and only 40% liked it. I know Ben Franklin thought of it, and he’s a steady source of genius, but he lived in a time before air-conditioning, electric lights, TIVO, iphones, and youth travel soccer. It seems to me we all just do whatever the heck we want to do, no matter what time the clock says. So why are we bothering to reset it?
Now it’s time for bed. I think.
Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Sign up for her mailing list at www.pamlobley.com.