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Is DST stupid?

This is post no. 94 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

You might have heard about how the US is just about to institute constant DST, just like few states already did.

You might also hope that this will be a well-researched article on benefits and downsides of Daylight Saving Time, written carefully in a couple hours, that will refine your understanding of this controversial question.

Well, no. It's just my opinion. (For now.) It might refine your understanding though.


So... the general concept is simple: let's move Time around so that sunlight hits the planet surface at times that are slightly more convenient.

And since "forward" and "backward" are impressively confusing concepts when it comes to moving Time itself around... here is a (hopefully) intuitive anchor point:

for standard time, when the sun is highest is 12:00pm.

for Daylight Saving (summer) time, when the sun is highest is 13:00pm.

Of course, all this is just an approximation, since, depending on where exactly you're within your time zone, the exact time of Actual Noon might be somewhat off already... but... it's still a reasonable approximation.

At least "solar noon" (if that's a thing) is an actual, objective reference point that we can count on not jumping around randomly. Our labels for things... are a whole different thing.


Given this reference point, things start making sense somewhat.

In the summer, 13:00pm is Solar Noon; by the time the sun is really up, we're done with more of the workday (since it's 13:00pm) as compared to as in the winter (when we label the same point as 12:00pm). Thus, more bright afternoon hours.

At the same time, if we take times when the sun is still super low and it's cold and dark and everyone should rather be sleeping instead... these are called 8am now. In the winter, the same thing is called 7am. Summer's 8am is a lie to get you out of bed earlier than you would want to.

Overall... in exchange for some extra bright hours after workdays (of which we have more of anyway in the summer), we're making mornings worse and a significant proportion of the population more sleep-deprived. And... we're making this permanent??? I'm... not really a fan. (But then I'm not really a fan of early mornings; others might disagree.)


On the other hand... while I'd actually prefer standard time all around the year... any of the two is better than the current switching back and forth.

The part where there is an increase in the number of accidents / health issues around switching time is a well-known fact. Which is probably just one of the consequences of the fact that

DST is an ugly hack that shouldn't exist.

Generally, clocks are supposed to be reasonable references for Actual Time. As in, people assume that 7am today and 7am tomorrow are a day apart. If you go to sleep at 10pm and get up at 8am, you will have slept 10 hours. (... if we don't count the occasional leap second.)

The way DST works is... your work starts at 8am, but your workplace wants you to show up at 7am, so we just relabel 7am to 8am for half of the year, breaking everything in the process that doesn't follow labels (sleep schedules, clocks that don't auto-readjust themselves, plane arrival times, etc), just so that they can tell you that your start time is still 8am even though it really isn't. Because "afternoon hours".

I'm really glad that we're getting rid of this.


But then... it looks like we'll be stuck with earlier mornings all year. Even though they were bad already.

Yes, I'm the kind of person who really doesn't like early mornings. On the other hand... about half of the population is like this.

I can definitely understand how... if you're, say, a baker, you need to get up early since you need to be finishing up things when everyone else gets to the point of getting up. Or, if you're working in shifts, well, if someone has to work when everyone else is asleep... by definition, those hours will not be nice.

Inflicting early hours on kids going to school, on the other hand, sounds like pointless cruelty to me, whose pointlessness I didn't yet appreciate back when it was still being inflicted on me; I was definitely aware of the cruelty part of it though. The fact that teachers & many others in the school system are exposed to the same cruelty doesn't make it particularly more smart. Also, it's a fairly similar situation with most jobs that do not require you to actually be present (vs. just getting things done); this covers most office work (since you only need a smaller overlap in meetings). For these, if the one hour shift for DST counts, we're already doing things wrong.

To be fair, if your main job is to interact with other people, "work hours" might make more sense... except... getting up early yet again ends up being unreasonable if you want to interact with clients who come to you after their work. (E.g. most boba places open at 10-11am).

Overall... there just shouldn't be a standard, uniform workday. We should be capable of actually adapting to changes, too! And we can hopefully do this without lying ourselves about where the Sun actually is on the sky. But... that's just the beginning.

That first DST winter is coming. And once it happens, hopefully, we manage to figure out how to make it less dark and cold, by, just, um, agreeing on not getting up way too early.

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.