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DAILY DIARY – DEBUNK THE JUNK, APRIL 4, 2004

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DAILY DIARY – DEBUNK THE JUNK, APRIL 4, 2004

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"I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind.  I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen.  As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it.  At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." (Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947, XIX, unday.)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

It’s the 4th day, and I now have the added challenge of rearranging my biological clock to come into synch with “springing forward”.  Daylight Savings Time (DST) has come and some of the citizens of the world have turned their clocks ahead in order to “conserve” daylight.  Changing both the mind and body to come into line with our human concept of time and gaining or losing an “hour” can be a challenge to even the most stoic of us.  But how many of you out there can tell me who proposed the concept of daylight savings time?  Or why we insist on changing our clocks twice a year?

A quick Google search and you come up with plenty of web sites that will enlighten you about this interesting concept of pushing time forward or backward.  You’ll find bits of trivia like countries near the equator do not usually change their clocks and ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews would like to eliminate daylight saving time because they recite prayers at a particular time of day during the Jewish month of Elul.  More importantly, you will learn more about when the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />United States started DST and the rich history of this controversial manipulation of time.

Despite some protest about DST a U.S. Department of Transportation poll indicated that it was popular with Americans because “there is more light in the evenings/can do more in the evenings.”  2.7 million New South Wales citizens were surveyed and 68 percent liked daylight savings.  And, interestingly enough, studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation and power companies in New Zealand seem to indicate that DST saves energy.

However, The National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) 2002 Sleep in America poll, seems to indicate an “epidemic of daytime sleepiness” that can impact people very negatively including hormonal and metabolic changes that mimic the effects of aging, and an increased risk of developing diabetes, among other things.  Lisa Kramer, a finance professor at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, has studied daylight savings time and its effects on our lives and even found an interesting correlation between this bi-yearly time shift and a very, very large drop in stock markets the day after. (It will be interesting to see what happens Monday, April 5th.)  Considering all that evidence, I believe that this fairly radical shift in time perception, even if only 1 hour, can have a negative effect on our eating patterns.    

Control.  Janet Jackson sang about it and humans in general tend to think that they have some sort of control over their world.  We even want to control time.  Why not? Time is a human concept and I suppose we are entitled to move it forward or backward as we see fit.  So why is it that a large number of us do not seem to be able to “control” what we put in our mouths?  It’s up to the individual to contemplate such personal matters.