Log in Subscribe

Time for a Change

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 2/28/20

Ever since last fall when the clocks got turned back, my sleep schedule has been completely out of whack. If I go to bed too early, I'm up by two in the morning and if I go to bed too late, I wake …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Time for a Change

Posted

Ever since last fall when the clocks got turned back, my sleep schedule has been completely out of whack. If I go to bed too early, I'm up by two in the morning and if I go to bed too late, I wake groggy and exhausted. I am not alone in my sleeping woos, nearly twenty million American suffer from sleeping disorders caused by time changes.

Imagine being jet lagged twice a year every year. So why do we do it? Benjamin Franklin published the proverb “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” back in 1784, but he did not suggest that we should adopt Daylight Saving Time. Resetting time is actually an ancient process pre-dating even the Roman Empire.

Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than Daylight Saving Time does, often dividing daylight into 12 hours regardless of daytime, so that each daylight hour became progressively longer during spring and shorter during autumn. The Romans kept time with water clocks that had different scales for different months of the year; at Rome's latitude, the third hour from sunrise started at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes.

We would never be able to understand that system today, so from the 14th century onwards, equal-length civil hours supplanted unequal ones, so civil time no longer varies by season. But that still doesn't explain why we have Daylight Saving Time. Let's blame it on the industrial revolution. Industrialized societies usually follow a clock-based schedule for daily activities that do not change throughout the course of the year.

The time of day that individuals begin and end work or school, and the coordination of railroad timetables, for example, usually remain constant year-round. In contrast, an agrarian society's daily routines for work and personal conduct are more likely governed by the length of daylight hours and by solar time, which change seasonally because of the Earth's axial tilt. You can't plow a field in the dark no matter what the clock says.

North and south of the tropics daylight lasts longer in summer and shorter in winter, with the effect becomes greater the further one moves away from the tropics. So to normalize these seasonal changes to bring both our agrarian and industrial societies together the United States Congress established standardized time zones and adopted Daylight Saving Time on March 19, 1918.

The Act passed by Congress set Daylight Saving Time to begin on March 31, 1918 and last for seven months. Now the modern version of Daylight Saving Time has been extended a little by starting this year on March 8th. The only thing I look forward to during this time change is the Swan Lake Firehouse French Toast Breakfast. They only do it twice a year, spring ahead and fall back, and it is a good way to start the “new time” season.

Hopefully, I will not have to wait until then to get a good nights sleep though, as we have our annual Bag Sale - Today, Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 28, 29 & Mar. 1), and I will need all the sleep I can get.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here