‘The Great Debate: Looking at the pros and cons of daylight savings’

Apr 04, 2021
Wake up you sleepy head! Source: Getty Images

The annual switch to daylight savings time has become something of a debate around Australia, and as parts of the nation wind their clocks back two long-time Starts at 60 community members share their passionate thoughts on the issue.

“I love daylight savings time” — Lyn Fletcher

It is a mid-September morning, 5:30am. My eastern-facing bedroom window is suffused with a yellow glow from behind the drapes, which normally shield me from the morning’s glare. I pull down my eye shades, trying to protect myself from the sun’s intrusion, but it’s of little use.

My neighbourhood is waking. The birds are tweeting their early morning calls to each other. John, across the way, is leaving for work at 5:45am, Sue next door is showering and using her hair dryer before her early morning commute. It won’t be long before the builders start working on the new house down the street and someone, somewhere brings their lawn mower to life.

I find it hard to drop off to sleep again, even though I’ve only had five or six hours of blissful dreaming. How I hate this time of the year and how I love it when daylight savings time starts again in early October. An extra hour of sunlight at the other end of the day suits me fine. You see, I’m a bit of a night owl.

To me, the early hours of the morning are a time to enjoy the bliss of an extra hour in bed — a luxury I didn’t have during my working life. I like to wake, knowing that the commuters have departed for their crawls to work in their cars or their overcrowded buses, trams and trains. I like the feeling that I can relax and enjoy a leisurely start to the day while others feet are tucked under their desks, are standing in front of classes or behind counters or machines. I do the day’s crosswords and Sudoku together over morning coffee.

Not for me the early morning forays into the garden or the brisk walks around the local park. These are my late afternoon and evening activities — when the afternoon sun has lost its heat and our suburb is usually blessed with a cooling breeze. I enjoy the extra hour of twilight, pottering around the yard, watering and weeding. Or sitting with a book or my tablet, having a cool drink on the terrace (or inside if the mozzies are bad).

We eat later (or not much at all, if we’ve been out to lunch in the middle of the day). We don’t have to turn on the lights inside until 8pm and we enjoy our evenings of reading, watching our favourite TV programs or a movie and we go to bed when we are tired, usually around midnight.

Summer has its own rhythm this way — a beat that suits me, my body, my time of life. I like it this way. And I will be a little saddened now that it has ended for the moment. Until October.

“I am passionately against daylight savings time” — Jennifer Lockhart

Daylight savings time. I absolutely hate it. I see no good reason for it.

By changing the clocks many think it gives them more daylight hours. It does not. The sun is still present for X amount of hours, no matter what the clocks say.

People who think putting the clock forward by one hour gives them an extra hour of sunlight are wrong. It does not. These are the same types who believe that cutting 6 inches off one end of a rug and tacking it on the other end will make it longer! No it won’t.

Personally, daylight savings time, all six months of it, makes me feel like I have a bad case of jet lag. Anyone who has experienced the fatigue and difficulty concentrating as a result of the body travelling across different time zones will know exactly how I feel.

I do not change my clocks, though my phone amends itself automatically, the shops in town do and the TV as well. I find it so disruptive.

Changing the time, even if it is only by an hour, disrupts our body clocks and rhythm.

In fact, this twice-a-year desynchronisation of our body clocks has been linked to increased health risks including depression, obesity and cancer. According to officials, the lack of sleep at the start of daylight savings time has lead to car accidents, workplace injuries, suicide and miscarriages. Research suggests the risk of suffering a heart attack is also increased when daylight savings time begins.

I’ve asked around and many of the people I’ve spoken to share my intense dislike for daylight savings.

Most of those who live in rural communities are not keen on daylight saving. They are opposed to the disruption to things like milking cows, and getting kids off to school while the sun is still asleep.

It does not bode well with animal life. The roosters are crowing at 4am, instead of 5am and this is disruptive to ones’ normal sleep pattern. Kids don’t want to go to bed at 7:30pm while the sun is still high in the sky. They get tired and cranky, just as I do.

In modern times, most workers are on flexible hours. If they want to change their hours, let them. Just do not force it on the majority of the population. As a result of daylight savings, Australia has three time zones during winter and five during summer.

In 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic there was absolutely no need for daylight savings! No one could go out for more than an hour. No one could visit anyone. There were no trips to the beach or other social activities etc. But, we still had daylight saving.

It is a curse, in my opinion. It has no benefit at all to me, and it does not make for a good quality of life.

I’m glad it’s coming to an end! And hopefully within the next six months (before it starts again in October) I will have relocated to Queensland where daylight savings time has been abandoned since 1992.

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Where do you sit on the daylight savings time debate -- are you for or against it?

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