Monday, March 9, 2009

Saving Daylight Can Kill You!

I hope you’re not reading this from a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Daylight Saving Time, apparently, can kill you. Or at least increase the odds you’ll have a heart attack, according to Swedish researchers who found a 5% increase in heart attacks the three days following the “springing forward”….and a 5% decrease in heart attacks the three days after we set the clocks back an hour in the fall. The increase, they think, is because of sleep deprivation.

This whole thing goes back to Ben Franklin, who believed the saving of daylight would also save candle-wax. Franklin, characterized by the comedy troupe “Firesign Theater” as the only American President who was never an American President, had a lot of good ideas.

Then, the government got involved, and, well - they were just trying to help, I guess. Indiana, which reluctantly went along with Daylight Saving Time a few years ago in 2006, did a study. Seems DST didn’t save energy, like the government said….it actually increased it about one percent, and as near as they can figure it was because of increased air-conditioning use. I’m not putting a lot of faith into that study.

The feds countered with a study last year that said we do indeed save energy with DST, so you can pick the study you like, I guess. I rely on anecdotal evidence, compiled by yours truly over the last decade or so. I can attest that our dog doesn’t consult the clock when she thinks it’s time to get up. Our Collie, like the Sheltie before her, doesn’t “spring forward” or “fall back”.
Having just spent a week in southern Arizona at Spring Training, I can see why those folks don’t bother with Daylight Saving Time. That high-angle sun down there around Phoenix provides plenty of daylight year-round. And it’s not like the daylight up here in Madison at 43 degrees north. Being that much closer to the equator (Phoenix is 33 degrees north) makes a HUGE difference in how hot the sun feels and how much relative power it has to cook your skin.

So if you make it past Wednesday and don’t have a heart attack because of the time change, good for you. You’ll need the strength, because on average, Madison gets seven inches of snow in March….and three-and-a-half in April. It’s not the time change that’ll kill ya…it’s the shoveling.

1 comment:

  1. I confess to having doubts about the Swedish "spring ahead" study. This is, after all, the land that gave us Alfred Nobel (the dynamite guy) and Christer Fuglesang, whom I'm sure needs no introduction. Stockholm is located at 59° 21' N latitude, which is on a par with the southern tip of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The Swedes get 6 hours of daylight in December and 18 hours in June - if the skies are not cloudy all day. If changes in the hours of daylight we endure can cause heart-attack spikes, the Swedes should have dropped dead centuries ago.