Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lighten up again . . .

This time, I mean it literally. Can we please not set the damn clocks back? Mayer Hillman in the new BMJ (sorry, subscription only) argues that we could reap a major public health benefit if we'd leave well enough alone with the time in the fall.

"Research has shown that people are happier, more energetic, and less likely to be sick in the longer and brighter days of summer," he tells us. We can't stop the days from getting shorter, but we can spend more of our waking hours in what daylight there is, and more of them out of doors. By leaving the clocks ahead, we would have more "accessible daylight." Yes, more of us would wake up before dawn, but we spend the next hour or so in the house anyway, showering and shaving and eating breakfast and (for a dwindling few) reading the newspaper, etc. Today, I will leave my office at the end of the workday in the light, but one week from Monday, after we set the clocks back, it will suddenly be deep darkness.

That is always one especially depressing Monday. The result is less physical activity -- many people don't like to go out after dark, or let their children out to play. People will walk less and drive more. We'll all get fatter and sadder. And why? It just seems pointless.

So that's my vote. Keep "daylight saving time" year round.


C. Corax said...

Well, I wish they'd settle on one or the other and stick with it. Not too choosy which they pick.

I've been getting up in the dark of early morning for weeks and weeks now, to walk the four dogs in the woods by the light of a spelunker-style head lamp. I'm actually grateful for the dark on both sides of my work day come deer shotgun season, since it means the hunters won't be out (hunting starts 1/2 hour before sunrise, ends 1/2 hour after sunset).

Walking in the dark like that is a wonderful experience, by the way. I highly recommend it.

kathy a. said...

i don't like the short days. but the worst part is when the clock rolls back, and it is suddenly dark at such an early hour. so, i'm with you.

Cervantes said...

Well C, hunters can make me nervous, but there are more white tailed deer in New England today than before the Europeans came, since the cougars and the Indians are no longer around to prey on them. Somebody's got to do it.