The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date

This Sunday, November 6, marks the end of 2011's daylight savings time period. It began on March 13th when we all turned our clocks ahead by one hour. This Sunday, we turn them back and, once again, the world of time will be balanced. Or will it?

There are those who become completely discombobulated by the whole "spring ahead, fall back" phenomenon. For weeks after turning the clock back or ahead, sleep patterns are disturbed, schedules are off kilter and every simple task that gets screwed up is blamed on the fact that the task master is all out of sorts trying to get used to the damn time change. Really?

Can a simple one-hour adjustment really be the cause of so much mayhem? Are our circadian rhythms that sensitive? Apparently, the answer is yes. I decided to do a little investigating on the subject and was astounded at the results of some steadfast research. The most alarming statistic I found was that there is an increase of heart attacks immediately following the changing of the clocks. We Boomers are certainly in that "heart-attack prone" era of our lives, so this didn't sit well. Among the other effects is increased sleep deprivation which can result in a corresponding increase in accidents. Oh my, there go the insurance premiums.

I remember my futile attempts at understanding daylight savings time as a child. It was rumored that part of the reasoning behind it was so we kids would be safer at the bus stop in the morning as daylight would appear earlier and we would no longer be standing in the dark. This meant that nocturnal predators had returned to their dens and caves, and the bus would have less of a chance of blindly running us over.

I always felt sorry for my mom, assuming that she had to stay awake until two o'clock in the morning which was the appointed time to change the clocks. It never occurred to me that she simply changed the clocks before she went to bed. I'm sure it did occur to her to try to slip the change by us earlier, thereby insisting that bedtime had somehow crept up on us. But on Saturday nights, we knew the television lineup by heart, so trying to convince us it was actually 10 p.m. when Lawrence Welk or Saturday Night at the Movies was just starting, well, it simply didn't fly.

The true test of the brain-scrambling effects of daylight savings time was arrival at church on Sunday morning. Mom would drop us off about 15 minutes before the start of Mass. We would be surprised by the amount of people already seated in the pews, some looking as if they had been there for almost an hour. Well, they actually had been there for an hour because either they forgot to set the clock ahead before bed, or they changed it in the wrong direction. When Mass concluded, mom would be waiting out front ready to make the trek to the bakery for hard rolls and jelly donuts. We would chuckle at the cars arriving as we departed, glancing at the confused looks on their faces as to why so many people were leaving without attending services. I'm sure when the light bulb went on and they realized the error of their ways, a few choice words were emitted that would not have been pleasing to God on his holy day. Since we attended Catholic school, we were privy to some of these funny stories as told by our classmates on Monday morning.

As I got older and started to understand the concept better, I found myself joining the ranks of those who preferred falling back. We somehow convinced ourselves that we gained an hour of sleep. Of course after the age of 18, that extra hour meant an extra hour in the bars that normally were required to close at 2 a.m. We had to stay out just on principle, and it didn't matter because we would be able to sleep an extra hour the next morning.

My favorite memories of daylight savings time were how it affected street play as a kid. In the spring, when we turned those clocks back, it meant we could play outside later. It was an extra hour of bike riding, Chinese jump rope and hit the stick. It also meant the school year would be winding down and summer vacation was a little bit closer.

At my age, changing the clocks really doesn't pose much of a challenge. Between post-menopausal hormone shifts, a babysitting schedule that changes with the wind and writing deadlines that often mean staying up until the wee hours, I basically sleep when I can and treat the grogginess with caffeine. However, in traditional Boomer-style attempts to hold onto to our youth and prove to the world that we are not getting too old, I do plan to stay that extra hour in a bar this weekend.

Tagged: Boomers, daylight savings