Wed, Nov 2, 2011 01:14 PM
This Sunday, November 6, marks the end of 2011's daylight
savings time period. It began on March 13th when we all turned our
clocks ahead by one hour. This Sunday, we turn them back and, once
again, the world of time will be balanced. Or will it?
There are those who become completely discombobulated by the whole
"spring ahead, fall back" phenomenon. For weeks after turning the
clock back or ahead, sleep patterns are disturbed, schedules are
off kilter and every simple task that gets screwed up is blamed on
the fact that the task master is all out of sorts trying to get
used to the damn time change. Really?
Can a simple one-hour adjustment really be the cause of so much
mayhem? Are our circadian rhythms that sensitive? Apparently, the
answer is yes. I decided to do a little investigating on the
subject and was astounded at the results of some steadfast
research. The most alarming statistic I found was that there is an
increase of heart attacks immediately following the changing of the
clocks. We Boomers are certainly in that "heart-attack prone" era
of our lives, so this didn't sit well. Among the other effects is
increased sleep deprivation which can result in a corresponding
increase in accidents. Oh my, there go the insurance
I remember my futile attempts at understanding daylight savings
time as a child. It was rumored that part of the reasoning behind
it was so we kids would be safer at the bus stop in the morning as
daylight would appear earlier and we would no longer be standing in
the dark. This meant that nocturnal predators had returned to their
dens and caves, and the bus would have less of a chance of blindly
running us over.
I always felt sorry for my mom, assuming that she had to stay
awake until two o'clock in the morning which was the appointed time
to change the clocks. It never occurred to me that she simply
changed the clocks before she went to bed. I'm sure it did occur to
her to try to slip the change by us earlier, thereby insisting that
bedtime had somehow crept up on us. But on Saturday nights, we knew
the television lineup by heart, so trying to convince us it was
actually 10 p.m. when Lawrence Welk or Saturday Night at the Movies
was just starting, well, it simply didn't fly.
The true test of the brain-scrambling effects of daylight savings
time was arrival at church on Sunday morning. Mom would drop us off
about 15 minutes before the start of Mass. We would be surprised by
the amount of people already seated in the pews, some looking as if
they had been there for almost an hour. Well, they actually had
been there for an hour because either they forgot to set the clock
ahead before bed, or they changed it in the wrong direction. When
Mass concluded, mom would be waiting out front ready to make the
trek to the bakery for hard rolls and jelly donuts. We would
chuckle at the cars arriving as we departed, glancing at the
confused looks on their faces as to why so many people were leaving
without attending services. I'm sure when the light bulb went on
and they realized the error of their ways, a few choice words were
emitted that would not have been pleasing to God on his holy day.
Since we attended Catholic school, we were privy to some of these
funny stories as told by our classmates on Monday morning.
As I got older and started to understand the concept better, I
found myself joining the ranks of those who preferred falling back.
We somehow convinced ourselves that we gained an hour of sleep. Of
course after the age of 18, that extra hour meant an extra hour in
the bars that normally were required to close at 2 a.m. We had to
stay out just on principle, and it didn't matter because we would
be able to sleep an extra hour the next morning.
My favorite memories of daylight savings time were how it affected
street play as a kid. In the spring, when we turned those clocks
back, it meant we could play outside later. It was an extra hour of
bike riding, Chinese jump rope and hit the stick. It also meant the
school year would be winding down and summer vacation was a little
At my age, changing the clocks really doesn't pose much of a
challenge. Between post-menopausal hormone shifts, a babysitting
schedule that changes with the wind and writing deadlines that
often mean staying up until the wee hours, I basically sleep when I
can and treat the grogginess with caffeine. However, in traditional
Boomer-style attempts to hold onto to our youth and prove to the
world that we are not getting too old, I do plan to stay that extra
hour in a bar this weekend.