Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Grump About Daylight Saving Time

Today is the first day of Daylight Saving for us here in New Zealand. It seems (she says grumpily) to start earlier every year, and end later. I always struggle with it for two reasons.

1) I struggle with understanding the concept of time moving ‘forward’. I see time as a linear thing, like a railway line, and to me the clock hands are moved ‘forward’ or ‘backward’ depending on where you are standing. If you’re at a railway station and the train is about to arrive there, it will seem to be coming towards you and hence going ‘forward’. But if it’s leaving the station, it will seem to be going ‘backwards’ away from you, even though it’s moving ‘forward’ according to the people in the next station. So if the time on a clock is like that, then whether or not a clock can be said to be ‘put forward’ depends on whether the relevant time you want to adjust it to has passed or not. So when they say ‘put your clocks forward’, I always get confused as to whether that means we adjust a clock from ten to eleven pm, or vice versa.

This time, someone in my aspie group gathering yesterday actually explained it to me quite simply – “Forward is clockwise, backwards is anti-clockwise.” And then someone else in a Facebook group put up a clock graphic that similarly explained it. However, I suspect these are only really useful for those of my generation who grew up with ‘proper’ clocks, not the younger generations more used to digital ones. So I’m wondering if there are others out there just as confused by this notion of time going ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’.

2) My second problem with Daylight Savings is more profound, and harder to fix. Put bluntly, I am not a Morning Person. Since childhood, I’ve struggled with getting myself out of bed and on time for school, then work, then the demands of motherhood, study, or just appearing to face the world at a ‘normal’ time. People like me (and we’re not all on the spectrum by any means), when faced with someone all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at five or six am, crack open one bleary eye and scowl, thinking “what the (expletive-deleted) are you being so (expletive-deleted) cheerful about, in the middle of the (expletive-deleted) night?!!” Never mind it may be dawn or near it, it still feels like the middle of the night to us. And getting us up and going at any decent hour of the morning (and let’s make this plain, anything before seven is indecent to us) is a major effort.

And then you want us to actually get up even earlier?!!? Are the Powers That Be totally  crazy?!!? Other people rave about having an ‘extra’ hour to do things in the evening. So what, we ask? We ‘Night Owls’ have never had any trouble staying up late, so all that means to us is that it’s still hot and fairly light when we’re trying to get to sleep, and we have enough trouble with that already. Alarm clocks jar us awake when it seems we’ve only just fallen asleep, the sun never seems to move from the sky, TV programs start when we’re not ready to watch them yet, and mealtimes roll around before we’re actually hungry.

So I loathe Daylight Saving – it doesn’t ‘save’ me anything – and I never really do manage to get my bio-rhythms to fit, or they’re finally just starting to, and then we have to change back again. It’s a perennial problem for me, and one I’ve never been able to really solve.

Does anyone else have this problem, or know what I mean? Or am I the only one totally grumpy and out of sorts with it?


  1. Ah, that's right, you're having spring on your side of the planet. Here, we're entering autumn so when we change the clocks I will get to sleep an hour later. Hmm... perhaps becoming migratory is the solution! Keep changing hemispheres and you'll always be adding an extra hour of sleep.

    I grew up with a circadian rhythm disorder known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (which it sounds like you may have as well) and it's more common among those on the autism spectrum than the general population (although I know many non-autistic people who have it.)

    When I was in my thirties, it shifted to the much more rare hypernychthemeral syndrome or non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome, most commonly found in the blind and, among sighted people, most commonly found in the autistic (although, again, I know NTs with it.)

    So I know the pain of sleep deprivation all too well!

    Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome:

    Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome:

  2. Penni, once again, you nailed it. I too, have no concept of the passage of time. It's always just "now". Luckily for me, I live in the one state that does not participate in daylight savings time. We never have to change the clock. In my opinion, DST should be done away with altogether. It was initially devised for the benefit of farmers. It just doesn't matter anymore. A good farmer will grow their crops according to nature, not a tool.

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  6. Oh Gods yes!!! I have always hated British Summer Time, never seen the point of it, never really grasped the concept...I struggle with the concept of time generally but chuck in BST and aaargh!