Time It Was

Overheard from the crazy lady at the gym: “None of the clocks in here are right. They had to come in last week and reset them all – but that doesn’t mean anything.”

I should note that she said this before the time change.

Yes, due to popular demand, I’ve started writing down what the crazy lady at the gym says, in my little notebook where I keep track of weight lifted and distance run. On those occasions when I don’t have the solace of my earbuds, I sometimes catch what she’s saying to some other poor soul she has trapped in conversation.

Clocks and time have been on our minds this week. At least, for all of us in places who embrace the antique custom of Daylight Savings Time. For the record, we just went off DST and back to real, actual, dictated by the cycle of the earth’s rotation time. Amazing to me how many people don’t know which is which.

Yes, it does so matter! (This message brought to you by the People In Favor of REAL Time, aka PIFORT.)

People have been feeling the pain of the time change for the last several days, complaining of lost sleep, children awaking early, pets being a pain. It seems that we shouldn’t feel the impact of the autumn change (back to REAL time), because we get to sleep an hour longer in the morning. Well, yes, this would work great, except that we’re staying up later.

Instead of acknowledging that we feel sleepy and ready for bed earlier, we look at the clock. Hoo boy, no! we chortle. It’s *way* too early to go to bed. But our bodies know, regardless of what the clock says.

Changing our clocks reminds us, rather brutally, of our circadian rhythms. Otherwise we tend to ignore our animal selves in favor of our tech selves. We stay up late, with our lights and our TVs and our computers, working into the night and ignoring the sleepies.

In the morning, the alarm sounds and we force ourselves from bed, to meet our carefully detailed schedules.

It’s not really what Ben Franklin had in mind at all. We’re not taking advantage of shifting the pattern of our days to take advantage of the light so we can work in the fields more effectively or save on artificial lighting. And yet, our representatives in the House and Senate voted to expand DST as an “energy-saving” measure.

Yes, our PIFORT lobbyists are working on this.

The truth is, I think, that we’ve made the clock king. The digital readout, not how we feel, runs our lives. Sleep science has long shown that we spend more time in healing Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) in the early part of the night and more time in REM sleep (Rapid-Eye Movement or dreaming sleep) in the morning hours. You can really witness this if you sleep during the day at all. Sleeping in late into the morning produces lots of dreams. Afternoon naps are heavy and dreamless.

So, if we don’t go to bed until late at night, guess which kind of sleep we miss out on?

Sometimes I think it would be interesting to live a non-electronic life. I think people must have slept long hours in the dark of winter, which is what my body wants. Once black night fell and you fixed and ate supper, you wouldn’t sit around by the fire knitting or whittling or reading for all that long. Even if you woke at dawn to feed the chickens and milk the cows, you’d still be sleeping maybe ten hours a night?

I think about this sometimes, when I look out the windows and see the slanting glare of our electric lights spill into the night.

Then I go back to whatever brightly lit thing I was doing. I reset the clocks, but that doesn’t mean anything.

8 Replies to “Time It Was”

  1. Jeffe,
    I once tried to spend a week without using electricity in my apartment. I'd just read the results of a sleep study and was curious to know what my natural sleep/awake rhythm might be. Oddly enough, I feel sleep earlier (no reason to stay up to read or watch TV) but also woke for a few hours each night, quiet thinking time, then fell back asleep and woke a few hours after dawn. You should try it for a week to see what your body naturally does.

  2. My body craves this time of year. My mind tells me that as soon as the sun goes down, it's time to sleep, which is why summer really bums me out. I love the end of DST because it feels more natural. Of course, I still stay up reading, but I actually feel more rested now.

    Of course, I'm back to taking my noon time power naps *grin* But hey, it keeps me refreshed for afternoon writing!

  3. I am with you PIFORT's! I have a toddler and they don't get DST. They get the animalistic, 'my body says I'm tired', followed by 'oh, I'm awake, let's get up.' I, on the other hand, am ruled by the clock. My son starts yelling at 5 a.m. and I want to cry. So, we'll spend the next week or two readjusting, and I'll keep wishing DST didn't exist!


  4. Glad you're keeping us up to date on Crazy Gym Lady. It's nice to know there's somebody in the world weirder than me. 😉

  5. I like the crazy gym lady stories.:) I too am ruled by the clock and my children are up at the crack of dawn while beg for five more minutes. Whenever I go home (the caribbean)I'm up earlier, and go to sleep earlier. Though to be honest I sleep for a bout a week when I'm there, so I usually have to go for two. 🙁 I haven't been home in three years.

  6. Ah…I hate this time of year. I miss the sunshine. Broke down a couple of years ago and bought a sun lamp for the office.

  7. Every once in a while we will ditch all of the electronics in the house in favor of just spending time together. Thank god we still like each other. Could you imagine if we didn't?

    But like you I have been brought over to the dark side, er…or the light side. I love my techno gadgets and my reading devices and my social networks and that is why getting out and boating in the summer is so big with us. It forces us to embrace time just sitting on a beach watching the waves roll ashore.

    But once we get home, we always plug back in.

  8. I kind of did that, Keena, on a writing retreat once. It was fun to find my natural calendar. If I lived alone, I would totally try that again!

    Danica – I know what you mean about craving sleep this time of year. It feels so good!

    Good luck, Kristin – PIFORTs unite!

    You know, Linda, the crazy lady at the gym *does* kind of look like you!

    Chudney, I love sleeping in the Caribbean. Maybe it's all that water?

    Does the sun lamp work, Laura? It's still so sunny in Santa Fe that I'm not noticing the short light so much.

    That's cool that you do that, Kelly. Do you take days off work for it?

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