What Time is It? by
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Prompted By Changing Times

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What is time but an artificial concept imposed on us that we accept? I have always hated the change between Standard and Daylight Savings Time. When my kids were young, this always messed with their sleep for a few days. When I was director of a preschool, there was inevitably a teacher or parent who forgot to change their clocks, resulting in being late for work or class on the Monday after “Spring forward” Sunday. Why do we need this?

Since time is an arbitrary construct, I advocate for staying on Daylight savings time going forward.

If you want to know more about the history of changing our clocks, check out this article in the New York Times — Why Do We Change the Clocks, Anyway.

For someone who often has trouble sleeping, the fact that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine calls for an end to this biannual switching back and forth shift, as it disrupts our natural clocks and “could cause an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular events, and could lead to more traffic accidents” is good enough for me. According to Dr. Rachel Ziegler, a physician in the sleep medicine department at Mayo Clinic Health System, “Not only are we sleep deprived but we’re trying to force our brain into a little bit more of an unnatural sleep schedule … If you ask any sleep specialist, I think most of us would be in favor of a permanent schedule.”

My sense of time has been altered enough by retirement and the pandemic. Lacking a natural schedule, I depend on my watch telling me what time it is. Having the time change twice a year rocks my boat. Just now, I checked my watch to see how long I have been writing this and whether I need to stop to organize the zoom for my writers’ group. Today, it is 9:56 am, so I’m good. Next month, it will be 10:56 am, time to shift gears. Yet nothing has changed about how long I sleep and what time I am up and ready to write — nothing but the time.

While I’m on the topic of arbitrary time, what’s up with states that have more than one time zone? When we drive to Indiana to visit our daughter’s family, at some arbitrary place on the journey, we suddenly lose an hour. Good thing I’m not planning a trip to Hawaii or Arizona because they don’t observe Daylight Savings Time. My non-mathematical brain already has trouble figuring out time zone differences. It’s Mountain Standard Time for Arizona, so an hour earlier right now but two hours earlier after March 12. Hawaii’s time zone is Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, which makes it four hours earlier now and five hours earlier during Daylight Savings Time.

My brain is fried. This all makes little sense to me. Since time is an arbitrary construct, I advocate for staying on Daylight savings time going forward and beg the eight states that, like Indiana, have two (or three for Alaska) time zones* to make up their minds.

*Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alaska.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    First, I love the Dali image you use for your Featured photo. Perfection. Second, I agree completely with your thesis. I know people like to have more daylight at the end of the day, but why mess up or natural rhythms? You make your case well and cite scientific research. I am with you!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Well, Betsy, if we both agree then something must be done (LOL). My lost hour today has made me late for everything because I woke up an hour later than normal, although of course it was the same time in my head.

  2. Jim Willis says:

    Nice essay on time, Laurie, and what it is and isn’t. Interesting about what the Academy of Sleep Medicine points out about messing with the body’s natural clock. And I can relate to the internal change that takes place in our bodies when it comes to time. For one thing, I’ve always been an early riser before I retired. Now I find myself sleeping longer ant often not arising until 9 a.m. I’m working on changing that, though!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      As a fellow early riser, today I “slept in” too late and it messed with my day. Of course, the change to daylight savings was the culprit and I slept the same amount as usual. I have been late for everything today!

  3. Indiana, my home state, is actually a lot better now than it was for most of the years of our lives and for that we can thank my high school classmate Mitch Daniels. The entire state was on Central Standard Time all year. Thus it was the same as the East for half the year and the same as Chicogo the other half of the year. Now there is just a portion near Chicago that avoids Daylight Savings time. We were always told that it was the “drive-in movie theater lobby,” driving the avoidance of Daylight Savings, as they wanted it to get dark so they could start the movies. You know those powerful oligarchs that were even more pernicisou than drug companies like Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly?
    Obviously I enjoyed reading your screed and I identify with much of it,

  4. Thanx for your take on DST and the NYTimes link Laurie, ironic how the detractors unfairly blamed the farmers!

    I confess I never gave the twice-yearly time change much thought, just dutifully fell back and sprang forward. In fact I thought I had no Changing Times story at all until I remembered those dark English afternoons!

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    We have two time zones in British Columbia too–which I regularly forget and miss the zoom call if it originates in the eastern part (Kootenays). Time zones do become necessary when there is enough of an east-west distance, but it is really disorienting when you cross the international time zone and lose or gain a day!

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    I agree; pick one and have done. I vote for permanent DST…more biking time!

  7. pattyv says:

    Laurie, you voiced all my grievances on the time change & zones. It’s almost comical how man devises his reality into all these nonsensical compartments. I’m with you in simply allowing our own rhythms to take precedence, except I’m learning to compromise with my 3 furry companions who still wake up at 5am – how is that?

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