We have daylight saving time (DST) in Australia in all states except Queensland. The history of the initiative is well covered by Wikipediaand I am not going to go there. But, oh, the annoyance of feeling tired, the discomfort in the loss of sleep and energy as the body clock goes haywire and stress levels soar! Every time we have to change the clocks I feel and move like a sleepy fly ready to be swatted, a helpless victim of something akin to an inescapable, state-mandated jet-lag.
I do not like DST and the feeling, it seems, is mutual. My circadian rhythm is destroyed. Melatonin is being injected irregularly into my blood, resulting in fits of interrupted sleep, and the resulting stress prompts cantankerous, obstinate and utterly anti-social behaviour by Yours Truly.
Truth be told, I am not a gift to humanity in the best of times, but during the DST change-over period you had better stay away from me. I am capable of snapping at my long-suffering wife, bullying my adult children and blackmailing my grandkids. Only yesterday I told my four-year-old grandson that if he did not put on his socks and sneakers without assistance there would be no ice cream. The little fellow became so alarmed he actually did put them on by himself, for the first time in his life. It was not easy for him, mind you, but he received not an ounce of help from me. That a normally doting grandfather could display such indifference to a little one’s suffering illustrates DST’s pernicious influence.
Why do we do it, impose this collective jet-lag on ourselves? Why do we condemn ourselves to walking around with slack jaws and unfocussed eyes while our biological systems adapt to the difference in time – a difference we have needlessly and pointlessly created? Nobody seems able to provide a convincing answer, yet everyone is affected.
Do we reduce power usage? Not really. Show me someone who genuinely believes DST has saved them money and I will write to the Governor-General to request a medal be struck to honour those who attain the loftiest heights of gullibility and delusion.
Let’s be serious. Transport uses electricity when it needs it and as much as it needs. It works on its own time. Sunlight has nothing to do with the workings of trains, trams and buses. The same goes for any other industry you might care to mention – mining, factories, toolmakers, car producers, bakers, tailors and candlestick makers — none depends on DST or gains an advantage from its annual introduction. All have schedules to keep and available sunlight is not a consideration. Conveyor belts continue to roll, ore is smelted and cars manufactured regardless of the sun’s position in the sky at the start and end of every shift.
Do hospitals gain from the annual “spring forward”? No, they do not. Operations are performed under electric light, never mind if it is daylight or not. Do the armed forces benefit from DST? I don’t think so. Who needs soldiers capable of fighting only when the sun is up? As must be clear to any rational person, in today’s day and age, electricity consumption does not depend to any significant extent on the amount and extent of daylight. We live our lives regardless of whether the sun is up or down. Introduction of low-wattage LED lighting and power-thrifty appliances in our homes have further reduced the energy-saving rationale advanced to justify DST’s disruption.
As far as I can see the DST does nothing but destabilise our circadian rhythms, elevate stress levels, play havoc with blood pressure, irritate pets, kids and spouses and G-d only knows who else.
Could we please stop fiddling with time and harming ourselves in the process? My little grandson, for one, would appreciate the return of his normally doting and mild-mannered grandfather.
Dr Michael Galak and his family came to Australia as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1978