I don’t like this time of year.
It’s not because of the cold temperatures or the slow, snowy commutes.
It’s because of the darkness.
Nighttime’s early onset toys with my body. No sooner does the evening news come to a close and I feel like a waste. It’s dark outside, so, like some diurnal animal, lethargy overtakes me, my thinking dulls, and I feel like I could doze off with ease. I still do my evening things as a parent and volunteer but it’s tough to bring my “A Game” all the time.
Mind you, I’m chock full of energy and effort during the day, just as I am very late into the evenings during our longer summer brightness. I like light. I thank genetics and biology for the aversion to darkness. My dad is the same way. My grandfather was, too.
Some people get it far worse than the Confer boys. They get overcome by something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which, because of that same lack of sunlight, leads to an abundance of melatonin, which creates depression, hopelessness, malaise and even suicidal thoughts.
Doctors will tell you that you can fight those winter blues with pills and lamps — vitamin D and light therapy. That’s all well and good, but nothing is better than the natural source of that: Daylight.
But, getting it is easier said than done.
Most working people can’t get outdoors until the weekend because the government took away what precious sunlight we had during the week. Well, more accurately, Uncle Sam didn’t take away the sunlight, he just moved Mankind’s movements around it.
The recent “fall back” routine associated with the end of Daylight Saving Time robbed us of an hour of daylight every evening. That in conjunction with the shortening days as we close in on the winter solstice makes for early nightfall and not much time, if any, to get outdoors after work.
Daylight Saving Time’s later sunsets were a blessing, something to appreciate, but oddly, a lot of elected officials want nothing to do with it. When we changed the clocks numerous news reports were quick to point out that many bureaucrats, at the federal and state levels, want to do away with DST and leave everything as Standard Time, which means what we’re seeing now (an hour earlier end to the day) even in the summer months.
Why would they want that?
The lawmakers always cite, beyond the inconvenience of having to change the little hand on their watches, alleged increases in car accidents and heart attacks on or around the day the clocks change.
If health and safety is the reason to call for the end of DST, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to ditch Standard Time and make Daylight Saving Time the standard? You’d allow the working class to go outside and bask in the sunshine and get some much-needed exercise on winter evenings. That would help beat SAD as well as North America’s obesity epidemic.
But enough about us adults. What about the children?
We relentlessly harangue today’s kids about physical activity. We want them to ditch the phones, computers and televisions and get their butts outdoors to play sports, enjoy nature and run around like youngsters are supposed to.
Even the National Football League and public schools across the country work together to promote something called Play 60, which encourages kids to have 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
How can they when we just took away a full hour of potential playtime?
For the next few months, a child who gets off the bus close to if not after the four o’clock hour in Western New York has almost no time to change clothes and get muddy, snowy or sweaty.
They certainly can’t get in 60 minutes of vigorous play before the sun sets. But, were we to have Daylight Saving Time, they would.
So, doesn’t that, in a way, make the push to end DST a form of child abuse?
We need to let kids be kids. Heck, we need to let us old folks play, too. So, the next time you hear an elected official push for the end of Daylight Saving Time, ask that misguided soul, “Do you like living in the Dark Ages?”
The world would be a better place if it was Daylight Saving Time all the time.
Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.