Changing Times, Again and Again

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As I packed up my laptop to head home from work last Monday, I glanced out the office window and noticed it was pitch black. It was barely 5 o’clock, but it was already dark outside. That dreaded time change over the weekend, back to Standard-Daylight Time (SDT), reduced the already dwindling daylight by an hour at the snap of a finger.

Is the time change back to SDT really necessary anymore? Can’t we just all get together and decide to stay on Daylight-Saving Time (DST) all year? I understand the morning people will begin their day in darkness, but look at the flip side: it will stay light until most people get home from work. During the energy crisis in 1974, we stayed on DST for almost two straight years and people like me survived walking to school in the dark.

As we move into September and October, you begin to notice how much earlier the approaching darkness begins as the days get appreciably shorter. Daylight-Saving Time accounts for eight months out of the year (March through November)—there is no reason to plunge ourselves into early darkness during the other four months.

Come November, Long Islanders still maintain about 10 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset. With DST, the sun starts peeking through about 7:30 a.m. and disappears a little before 6 p.m. Why would we want to move everything back an hour?

Coining cute phrases like “spring ahead” and “fall back” have helped Americans remember which direction to change their clocks, but that doesn’t mean our bodies are on board with the changes. It seems the time change, in either direction, affects our body rhythm. The American Journal of Cardiology found heart attacks increase 10 percent in the days after the spring change to Daylight-Saving Time. When the body wakes up earlier for no good reason, it puts a strain on the heart. Maybe that’s why people have a love-hate relationship with their alarm clock?

Other studies have shown that there would be a reduction in both pedestrian and vehicular fatalities without a time change. Most employers notice a slowdown in productivity for at least a week following the time change in either direction.

I know this wreaks havoc in my house twice a year. Although my cell phone and cable boxes reset automatically (thank goodness), what about the clocks on my stove and microwave? I need to change the time on the coffee machine and the display in my car. My thermostat is off by an hour and changing the wall clocks sometimes requires acrobatic-like skills. To be honest, I’m not sure how to change the dial on my wristwatch without messing up the day and date. According to my watch, November now has 31 days.

Americans that don’t live in Arizona or Hawaii have been subjected to the time-change see-saw since 1966. Any state that wishes to join Arizona and Hawaii in opting out of the DST change, can simply request the change to the Department of Transportation, which controls time in this country. However, if you want your state to use DST year-long, you’ll need Congressional approval.

Although no state is currently utilizing DST permanently, the appropriately named “Sunshine State” of Florida is looking to become the first. The Florida State Senate approved the “Sunshine Protection Act,” but it has been stuck in Congress ever since. As such, Floridians were forced to make the change back to SDT just like the rest of us.

There are 25 other states that are looking to remain on DST, like California and most of New England, including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Did you know that 80 percent of Europeans are in favor of remaining on DST?

Adopting year-round Daylight-Saving Time would accomplish the same thing as abolishing it—avoiding the problems of time change. Personally, I want my sunsets to be postponed as long as possible. I don’t want to speed it up an hour for no good reason.

At my age, I’m not sure how many more sunsets I’ve got. Maybe I should just get a new watch?

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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