The mixed blessings of daylight saving.

As I wearily hit the snooze button on my radio alarm this morning I started thinking about whether the benefit of using more of the day in the evenings is worth it.

I always have been a big supporter of daylight saving.  As a child I loved it.  When it started I knew that summer and holidays were just around the corner.  During the holidays I could play in the yard with other kids even after dinner.  In northern Italy being on a higher latitude than here in Melbourne (about 45 degrees north) this meant a longer twilight, so we could go on playing even after 9 pm.  Happy times.

In Australia I smugly considered decisions by voters of some states not to implement daylight saving to be a joyless stick in the mud attitude.

However now being middle aged and with job and family responsibilities I am starting to see that daylight saving has some downsides.  I couldn’t get to sleep easily last night because my body clock was telling me that I was too early, and this morning it was telling me that I should have had another hour of sleep.  Of course this will dissipate by next weekend as my body adjusts.

This can be even more problematic with children.  My son got up a few times in the first hour of going to bed telling me that he couldn’t get to sleep, and this morning I had to chide him out of bed.

The other thing that I was thinking was whether in a country such as Australia, daylight saving is such a big deal.  Where I was living in Italy and even further north winters are darker and colder.  In mid-winter, dusk can start from four o’clock onwards.  So when summer comes the more light and sunshine the better.

Despite barbs about Melbourne weather, comparing to central/northern Europe or the northern part of North America, winters are definitely mild with plenty of sun.  So is daylight saving that necessary here in sunny Australia?  And that brings me why I don’t scoff at Queenslanders and Western Australians anymore.  If you live near the equator the changes of day length is  relatively minor, so I can understand why those living in Cairns or Broome may not see the benefit of shifting an hour.

On balance though, while I wouldn’t be upset if we didn’t have daylight saving, I think that I would still vote for it.  As a commuter cyclist it is great not to have to worry about lights, and I get more daylight riding time in general which is great.  And of course A-League matches which start when is still daytime.

So once I get over the tiredness I will enjoy the light the sun provides, for free.


Filed under Musings

3 responses to “The mixed blessings of daylight saving.

  1. It’s funny, I’d never really considered the merits or disadvantages of daylight savings until this year. We’ve got a 5-month old boy, and daylight savings was quite welcome, as he now wakes up at the very reasonable hour of 8:30! Granted, that will obviously become earlier as daybreak comes earlier, but it’s nice for the minute.

  2. Russ

    Now that it’s fall here “up over”, my thoughts turn to how to be visible on my bike. I find that here in a big city (dc) I’m more visible in high traffic downtown than nearer to my house. In any case I have enough blinking, flashing blinding lights and reflective clothes that I resemble a rolling Christmas tree.

  3. The idea that the case for daylight savings becomes decreasingly compelling the closer you get to the equator makes a lot of sense. I’ve never seen the point (of DLS), but I’m in Brisbane.

    You have given an explanation for the difference. Maybe southerners aren’t completely mental.

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