Friday, March 6, 2009

One step forward, 23 steps back

This Sunday we set our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time, effectively robbing us of one hour of sleep. While I'm generally all for more daylight in the evenings, I already don't get enough sleep to function like a half-way normal human being each day. A recent study concluded that there was a decreased risk of heart attacks for one day after moving the clocks back one hour in the fall, but that sleep deprivation resulted in an increased risk of heart attacks for three days after the clocks are moved forward in the spring.

My stance has always been that there isn't enough daylight to get excited about in the winter anyway, so we should just keep Daylight Savings Time all year round and eliminate the strain on our systems. But for some reason we as a society can't seem to shake the habit. So I have a new proposal that I think you will all agree makes perfect sense.

Since moving the clock back yields more sleep and health benefits, while moving it forward yields less sleep and health risks, we should agree right off the bat that the former course is sensible and the latter is insanity.

So, if we want to "set the clocks ahead" an hour for Daylight Savings Time, what we actually need to do is set them back an hour each day, adding one hour for 23 days until we end up where we want to be.

I know what some of you are thinking, and yes, it's true that we will end up going to work and school for a few days in what we currently think of as "the middle of the night." But hear me out on this one.

First of all, we would do it in February. That's a pretty useless month already, so no one will miss it. (We'll move Black History Month to January in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, as I think that now holds a little more relevance than the birthday of Frederick Douglass.)

We can even cut February down to 23 days to make it fit perfectly. We'll take the remaining four days (do the math) and give them to April, June, September and November. Now they all have 31 except for February, which has 23 days of 25 hours each. We could add an extra day to February for leap year, but it would have to be a normal 24 hour day. That would probably be too confusing, so it might be easier to just tether some giant solar sails to the Earth until we speed it up exactly 0.24 days in its revolution around the sun. Problem solved.

OK, now for the benefits:

1) February goes from being the suckiest month of the year to the month you get to sleep in every day.

2) Heart attack rates plummet. And I bet there's a whole host of other health benefits we don't even know about yet. Thank you, science!

3) If we can assume that America is once again on the cutting edge and no other countries are cool enough to follow along (oh, not at first, but they'll come around), then we will get to make a unique global journey. On February 5, New York will be in the same time zone as Hawaii (although Hawaii will be waking up with Japan). We'll be in China's time zone six days later. By Valentine's Day, we will share a work day with Kazakhstan before watching the sunrise together over a romantic dinner. (Um, together with our special someones, that is - not with Kazakhstan.) On the 19th, the London and New York stock exchanges will be in lockstep. And finally, on the last day of February (the 23rd, if you're counting), we will settle into Nova Scotia time where we always spend our summers.

We will be well rested, healthy, on the verge of spring, and possessed of a greater understanding of our world. So who's with me?


  1. This idea makes my eyes hurt. That's a sign of mathematic truth if ever there was one.