Opinion Column

Wake up. It’s later than you think

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)


This week's question: Is it time to turf Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight Saving Time is a sleep thief. On Saturday night, this anachronistic candlewax-conservation scheme messed with your clocks.

It’s time we fight back. After a coffee.

Immediately following this annual spring ahead, car accidents, injuries at work and suicides increase. So take care of each other – and yourself.

Researchers find that our biological clocks never really catch up. Sleep deprivation is an interrogation technique, not a way to “get the most out of life.”

Across Canada, many cities and regions don’t observe Daylight Saving Time, making for a messy patchwork of chrono-chaos.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

Our hours of daylight are really determined by our hours of work.

People used to rise with the sun. But during the industrial revolution, bosses started enforcing strict factory schedules – sometimes 16 hours per day. Unions fought back, eventually winning us the eight-hour day. And weekends. But why stop there?

Further shortening the workday would give us more daylight and more time for our families and ourselves. It’s time we got to clock-off an hour earlier or work a four-day week - with no pay cut.

Sadly, for many of us, workdays are getting longer. We work more than one job, part-time, overtime, contracts, childcare, piecework or shiftwork. We’re working online at odd hours. Daylight Saving Time means little to the precariat. I’m writing these words on a weekend evening, hunched over a keyboard in a darkened room having seen little daylight.

Daylight Saving Time first dawned on Benjamin Franklin in 1874. Franklin was shocked to find his bedchamber full of springtime sunlight at 6 a.m. “My domestic having negligently omitted, the preceding evening, to close the shutters,” he explained.

To enforce Daylight Saving Time, Franklin argued for taxing window shutters, posting guards at candle shops and firing off cannons to wake-up “sluggards.” Let’s stop taking advice from an out-of-touch aristocrat surprised by the sunrise.

Anyway, proponents are mostly in it for the Benjamins. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing and other lobby groups want more months of Daylight Saving Time to give us extra hours to shop and drive.

Changing the clocks was implemented to ration coal during the First World War. But promised energy savings haven’t really materialized, or are small enough to be within margins of error. And despite apocryphal stories, farmers aren’t in favour.

Call in sick and go back to bed. It’s time to end all this clock-bothering and let the sun set on this scheme.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins.