in Futurist, Parks and Rec, Politics

The Daylight Saving Time Fog

I was on the agenda for yesterday’s City Council meeting. Lately I’ve been done with these in about an hour. This session had a few more detailed items for discussion, however, and I waited in the audience long enough that I began to lose focus.

It seemed like I wasn’t the only one with this affliction. Maybe I was seeing things through sleepy eyes but to me the whole room seemed remarkably devoid of energy.

An amusing parade then began at the Council table. City Attorney Tom McCormick, a man who usually stays glued to his seat lest the Councilors get themselves into legal hot water while unsupervised, quietly stepped away from the table and out of the room, returning after a few minutes. I’m not sure why Tom stepped away, obviously, but I do know that it’s very rare for him to do so.

Next up was Councilor John Odom. The topic was the public utilities annual report or something similar. Midway through the discussion, John hopped out of his chair and stood behind the table for a few minutes, obviously feeling sleepy.

A few minutes later it was City Manager Russell Allen’s turn. He leaned against the wall near the front entrance for a few minutes during the presentation.

I was in one of the upper rows of the chamber, fiddling around with my smartphone for something to keep me awake. Finally, when I felt I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, I stepped out to the water fountain for a drink and to splash a little water on my face. Park Director Diane Sauer looked mighty worried when she saw me leaving but I soon returned.

Things got moving a bit more quickly after the public utilities report. The next presenter spoke for about 10 seconds before his item was voted on. Another two ahead of me went as quickly.

Then it was my turn. I leaped out of my chair when Mayor McFarlane was announcing the Parks board recommendation. Russell’s voice boomed in the microphone, introducing me by name, which was a nice gesture he doesn’t normally do for me.

I then stepped up to the microphone and dozingly spit out a stream of words that were all out of order and made no sense. The Council deciphered me in spite of my temporary dyslexia and soon dispatched me with a unanimous vote of approval. I stumbled out of the chambers and back into daylight.

It turns out it was daylight that I needed most. Sure, I had gotten up early that morning to poll greet for the election. Sure, I had stayed up late working on Little Raleigh Radio’s new website. Those things in themselves aren’t unusual for me – I get up early and go to bed late almost every day.

It was a dreary day, weather wise, day long. Those three hours I waited outside the polls I had longed to see the sun. Alas, the sun stayed stuck behind the clouds all day. Those kinds of days play with one’s head and skew one’s sense of time.

It wasn’t a case of not sleeping well the night before. I don’t recall any disturbances and the skies were clear overnight.

As I pondered later last night the mysterious case of daytime sleepiness I was astonished when I realized what must have caused it: it was the Daylight Saving Time Fog. It was

Daylight Saving Time ended early Sunday morning and everyone has been paying the price for it even days later. Sleepiness was definitely apparent in the Council session. Kelly complained about nearly face-planting at an afternoon meeting today. Her officemates were also affected.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts that this stupid time change saps people’s sleep patterns to a far greater degree than we realize. A 2008 study seems to confirm this:

Rest-activity cycles of nine healthy participants aged 20 to 40 years were measured around transitions out of and into daylight saving time on fall 2005 and spring 2006 respectively. Rest-activity cycles were measured using wrist-worn accelerometers. The participants filled in the Morningness-Eveningness and Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaires before starting the study and kept a sleep diary during the study.

Results: Fall transition was more disturbing for the more morning type and spring transition for the more evening type of persons. Individuals having a higher global seasonality score suffered more from the transitions.

Conclusion: Transitions out of and into daylight saving time enhanced night-time restlessness and thereby compromised the quality of sleep.

So, if DST doesn’t save energy and instead saps people’s energy, tell me again why we put ourselves through this twice a year?

Comments are closed.