What’s The Deal With Daylight Saving Time? | Bedtime Reading | Sleeping Duck Australia
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What’s The Deal With Daylight Saving Time?

The confusion, tiredness and huge coordination effort has left us wondering, what's really the deal with daylight saving time? Why is it still a thing and isn't it about time we got rid of it?

All this week we've been feeling the effects of daylight saving time. From struggling to get out of bed in the morning, to trying to work out whether the clock in the office had been changed (it hadn't, which meant turning up one hour early for a meeting #awkward). Not to mention the brain-numbing hour spent trying to change the time on the car dashboard.

The confusion, tiredness and huge coordination effort has left us wondering, what's really the deal with daylight saving time? Why is it still a thing and isn't it about time we got rid of it?

But first, a few facts about daylight saving time.

In 1907, Englishman William Willett was the first person to propose introducing daylight saving time when he published a brochure titled “The Waste of Daylight”, in which he proposed that the United Kingdom move its clocks forward by 80 minutes from April to October so its citizens could enjoy more of the sunlight hours. However, his proposal was repeatedly knocked back by the British Parliament and he never saw it come to light.

It was the Germans in 1916 who first took up the charge to introduce daylight saving, as part of the war effort to reduce energy consumption. The United Kingdom then followed by introducing “summer time”, as did the United States in 1918. Daylight saving time stopped at the end of the War but was reinstated during World War II.

Now a random collection of countries implement daylight saving time at various points in the year. The problem? A confusing melee of jumping time zones that makes scheduling international calls and figuring out when the next episode of Game of Thrones goes live incredibly difficult.

For example, in Australia only five of eight states and territories observe daylight saving time. For half the year, Australia operates on three simple time zones, but in October some states shift their clocks back an hour. The result is six months where Australia operates across five time zones.

NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania utilise Australian Eastern Daylight Time; their northern neighbour in Queensland, however, keep their clocks on Australian Eastern Standard Time, putting them an hour behind.

Meanwhile, South Australia (and randomly, Broken Hill) shift their clocks forward an hour in order to stay only a half hour behind their eastern neighbours, moving them to Australian Central Daylight Time. But the Northern Territory remains on Australian Central Standard Time. And Western Australia keeps their clocks on Australian Western Standard Time the whole year.

While this is certainly confusing, the reason behind it also doesn't make much sense. Originally, daylight saving time was introduced to save energy as part of the war effort and continued at a time when the majority of us followed a standard nine-to-five workday. But now the changing shifts in our lifestyles, schedules and increasing tendency to work across states and continents means it's less important to be able to get up with the sun for the summer months.

Even the supposed energy saving benefits are negligible.

A study of Australian power-use data during the 2000 Sydney Olympics (when daylight saving was extended in only some parts of the country) showed that daylight saving time had minimal impact on Australia's energy usage. The study, which was co-authored by environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, found while energy usage was reduced during the evening hours, the shift in time meant an increase in energy use during the now-dark mornings – wiping out any gains.

Not only is daylight saving time confusing, with few energy savings, it's also not all that great for our health as the sudden shock of having to get up an hour earlier interrupts the natural circadian rhythm in our body.  A 2008 study published in the journal Open Heart found the incidence of heart attacks increased 24 percent on the Monday following the time shift, compared to other days surrounding the start of daylight saving time.

While daylight saving time may not have many benefits beyond an extra hour of light in the evenings, if you're living in a state that follows it, it's something you have to put up with. If you're struggling with the shift to daylight saving time, there are a few things you can do to get your body's rhythm back.

Go to sleep earlier

Your body has a natural ‘bed time', where you start to slow down and feel tired. Unfortunately, in the weeks following daylight saving time, this ‘natural time' feels like an hour later than when you should be going to bed to get your optimum sleep.

Counteract this by setting a reminder in your phone for your regular bedtime and start your night time routine as soon it goes off. This will encourage your body to adjust to a new rhythm sooner.

Get plenty of morning sunshine

The easiest way to ‘trick' our body into feeling awake is to get out into the sunshine as early as possible. Open the curtains when you wake to let as much light in as possible while you get ready for work and take a quick walk to get some sun (and your body moving).

Exercise in the afternoon

Take advantage of the late sunset to fit in some exercise in the late afternoon. A walk, jog or cycle are a great way to get outside for some fresh air, and exercise helps you get to sleep later on.