Every time in the spring and fall people complain and ask why we change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

Some suggest we’ve passed the point of time that we still need to practice this tradition. After all, Benjamin Franklin supposedly first suggested getting up earlier in the summer to conserve candle usage, although he never officially proposed changing the time of clocks. Time change or not, I burn through the same amount of candles each year — zero.

In the November when we fall back an hour I always tell myself I’ll gain an extra hour of sleep. Then I either stay up an hour later or end up waking an hour earlier, defeating the purpose. This year I might have needed that extra hour of sleep more than any other. Last Friday was as busy of a day of work that I’ve had. I was up well before daylight and on the road to Milwaukee for state soccer. After the game it was a rush to get a story online and race back to Rice Lake for a playoff football game, and by the time that game ended and I had gotten home and written my story for the website, I was in need of a full night’s sleep.

When Saturday night came I was determined to use that extra hour to my advantage, so I called it a day earlier than usual. The only problem is I just ended up starting the next day ahead of schedule and still tired. Many of the proponents of ending the time change say that it messes with our biological clock and as a result there are more traffic deaths due to sleep deprivation. One of the other biggest complaints you hear is about how dark it gets in the evening in the fall but that’s actually when we are adjusting back to standard time.

The other interesting aspect is that not everywhere participates in Daylight Saving Time. Both Arizona and Hawaii don’t change clocks but rather just end up changing what time zone they are in, and other parts of the world have never used daylight saving. When I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago it was interesting that on the return trip to Phoenix we drove through the Navajo Nation and the clocks on our phones changed by an hour only to change back 10 minutes later, as daylight saving is observed by the Navajo Nation but not by the state its confined within.

While many suggest ending the daylight saving tradition, others have proposed going much farther. With a global economy and the ability to connect with people throughout the world some have suggested we get rid of time zones all together and operate by a global time. Pilots already use Coordinated Universal Time as they travel across multiple time zones very quickly.

Once you get past the significant barrier of how we view certain hours of the day, it might be something to consider. We get up in the a.m., eat lunch at noon and go to bed in the p.m., but does it have to be that way? Besides those are just numbers on a clock. The pattern we are really following is the sun, generally awake when it’s shining and asleep when it’s not.

Calculating time when factoring in time zone changes for travel or communicating with others thousands of miles away can be difficult. When we watch the world-wide event of the Olympics being held across the globe we have to do math to figure out when to tune in live to our favorite sport. Additionally there is lot of business conducted globally and if everyone operated using the same time on their clocks it would simplify things.

When not locked into time zones, regions could go back to functioning according to daylight and adjusting back to our human circadian rhythms. According to a study of the health of individuals living on time zone borders in the U.S. found that those on the right side of the boundary, the western most parts of a time zone, had a lower composite health index scores that measured sleep, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer than those on the left side, or eastern-most part of a time zone. People in the eastern parts of time zones experience more natural morning light while those on the other side get up in the dark and use artificial light to get ready for work.

Certainly there would be problems with a change to global time. First of all you would need every corner of the globe to be on board and there would be a fight for who gets to have their time to be the universal time. The next day begins in the middle of the night everywhere, but if we all use global time do we all flip the calendar at midnight still, even if that’s now sunrise or does it still occur in the middle of the night like usual even if that’s 3 p.m.?

I don’t have an answer to any of the questions regarding daylight saving or global time. The only thing I’ve learned is that when you get an extra hour one morning in the fall to think, you sometimes let your thoughts wander and you start to ask yourself big questions. What is time?

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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