Why I like DST

I know I’ve said some of this before, but if bloggers didn’t repeat themselves where would their content come from?

I like Daylight Saving Time, and the advantages it brings more than make up for the slight disruption in my schedule. In fact, the most annoying thing to me about the DST changeovers is hearing people complain about them. The “lost hour of sleep” is especially rich. Who are these hothouse flowers who always get exactly the same amount of sleep except for that terrible day in March? To hear them talk, you’d think they never stay up late watching a movie or reading a book. Only prisoners have such regimented lives.

I am sympathetic to parents with small children, because their changing sleep patterns can mess up your day. That problem, though, is worse when we change back to Standard Time in the fall. On what my wife calls The Day That Never Ends, the kids get up according to their internal clock but insist on going to bed according to the clock on the wall. Still, that lasts only a day or two. (Special note to Jason Kottke: If your kids take two weeks to adjust to the change, you’re doing something wrong.)

So what’s good about DST? Go to this page run by the US Naval Observatory, enter where you live, and look at an entire year’s worth of sunrise and sunset time given in Standard Time. Here’s what I get for Chicago:

             o  ,    o  ,                                  CHICAGO, ILLINOIS                           Astronomical Applications Dept.
Location: W087 41, N41 51                          Rise and Set for the Sun for 2013                   U. S. Naval Observatory        
                                                                                                       Washington, DC  20392-5420     
                                                         Central Standard Time                                                        


       Jan.       Feb.       Mar.       Apr.       May        June       July       Aug.       Sept.      Oct.       Nov.       Dec.  
Day Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set  Rise  Set
     h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m   h m  h m
01  0718 1631  0703 1706  0625 1741  0533 1816  0447 1850  0418 1919  0420 1929  0445 1909  0517 1824  0548 1732  0623 1645  0659 1621
02  0718 1632  0702 1708  0624 1743  0531 1818  0445 1851  0418 1920  0420 1929  0446 1907  0518 1822  0549 1730  0625 1643  0700 1620
03  0718 1633  0701 1709  0622 1744  0530 1819  0444 1852  0417 1921  0421 1929  0447 1906  0519 1820  0550 1729  0626 1642  0701 1620
04  0718 1634  0700 1710  0620 1745  0528 1820  0443 1853  0417 1922  0421 1929  0448 1905  0520 1819  0551 1727  0627 1641  0702 1620
05  0718 1634  0659 1711  0619 1746  0526 1821  0442 1854  0417 1922  0422 1929  0449 1904  0521 1817  0552 1725  0628 1640  0703 1620
06  0718 1635  0657 1713  0617 1747  0525 1822  0440 1855  0416 1923  0423 1928  0450 1903  0522 1815  0553 1723  0630 1639  0704 1620
07  0718 1636  0656 1714  0616 1748  0523 1823  0439 1856  0416 1924  0423 1928  0451 1901  0523 1814  0554 1722  0631 1638  0705 1620
08  0718 1638  0655 1715  0614 1750  0521 1824  0438 1857  0416 1924  0424 1928  0452 1900  0524 1812  0556 1720  0632 1637  0706 1620
09  0718 1639  0654 1717  0612 1751  0520 1825  0437 1858  0416 1925  0425 1927  0453 1859  0525 1810  0557 1718  0633 1635  0707 1620
10  0718 1640  0653 1718  0611 1752  0518 1826  0436 1859  0415 1925  0425 1927  0454 1857  0526 1808  0558 1717  0634 1634  0708 1620
11  0717 1641  0651 1719  0609 1753  0516 1828  0435 1900  0415 1926  0426 1926  0455 1856  0527 1807  0559 1715  0636 1633  0708 1620
12  0717 1642  0650 1720  0607 1754  0515 1829  0434 1901  0415 1926  0427 1926  0456 1855  0528 1805  0600 1714  0637 1632  0709 1620
13  0717 1643  0649 1722  0606 1755  0513 1830  0432 1902  0415 1927  0428 1925  0457 1853  0529 1803  0601 1712  0638 1632  0710 1620
14  0716 1644  0647 1723  0604 1756  0512 1831  0431 1903  0415 1927  0428 1925  0458 1852  0530 1801  0602 1710  0639 1631  0711 1620
15  0716 1645  0646 1724  0602 1758  0510 1832  0430 1904  0415 1928  0429 1924  0459 1850  0531 1800  0603 1709  0641 1630  0711 1621
16  0715 1646  0645 1725  0600 1759  0509 1833  0429 1905  0415 1928  0430 1923  0500 1849  0532 1758  0604 1707  0642 1629  0712 1621
17  0715 1648  0643 1727  0559 1800  0507 1834  0429 1906  0415 1928  0431 1923  0501 1847  0533 1756  0606 1706  0643 1628  0713 1621
18  0714 1649  0642 1728  0557 1801  0505 1835  0428 1907  0415 1929  0432 1922  0502 1846  0534 1754  0607 1704  0644 1627  0713 1622
19  0714 1650  0640 1729  0555 1802  0504 1836  0427 1908  0415 1929  0433 1921  0503 1844  0535 1753  0608 1703  0645 1627  0714 1622
20  0713 1651  0639 1730  0554 1803  0502 1837  0426 1909  0416 1929  0433 1920  0504 1843  0536 1751  0609 1701  0647 1626  0714 1622
21  0712 1652  0637 1732  0552 1804  0501 1839  0425 1910  0416 1929  0434 1919  0505 1841  0537 1749  0610 1700  0648 1625  0715 1623
22  0712 1654  0636 1733  0550 1805  0459 1840  0424 1911  0416 1929  0435 1919  0506 1840  0538 1747  0611 1658  0649 1625  0715 1624
23  0711 1655  0635 1734  0549 1807  0458 1841  0423 1912  0416 1930  0436 1918  0507 1838  0539 1746  0613 1657  0650 1624  0716 1624
24  0710 1656  0633 1735  0547 1808  0456 1842  0423 1913  0417 1930  0437 1917  0508 1837  0540 1744  0614 1655  0651 1623  0716 1625
25  0709 1657  0631 1737  0545 1809  0455 1843  0422 1914  0417 1930  0438 1916  0510 1835  0542 1742  0615 1654  0652 1623  0717 1625
26  0708 1659  0630 1738  0543 1810  0454 1844  0421 1915  0417 1930  0439 1915  0511 1834  0543 1741  0616 1653  0654 1622  0717 1626
27  0708 1700  0628 1739  0542 1811  0452 1845  0421 1915  0418 1930  0440 1914  0512 1832  0544 1739  0617 1651  0655 1622  0717 1627
28  0707 1701  0627 1740  0540 1812  0451 1846  0420 1916  0418 1930  0441 1913  0513 1830  0545 1737  0619 1650  0656 1622  0718 1627
29  0706 1702             0538 1813  0449 1847  0420 1917  0419 1930  0442 1912  0514 1829  0546 1735  0620 1649  0657 1621  0718 1628
30  0705 1704             0537 1814  0448 1848  0419 1918  0419 1930  0443 1911  0515 1827  0547 1734  0621 1647  0658 1621  0718 1629
31  0704 1705             0535 1815             0419 1919             0444 1910  0516 1825             0622 1646             0718 1630

                                             Add one hour for daylight time, if and when in use.

Sorry about the need to scroll horizontally; that’s just how the results are formatted.

If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May through the middle of July. And if you check the times for civil twilight, which is when it’s bright enough to see without artificial light, you’ll find that that starts half an hour earlier.

This is insane and a complete waste of sunlight. Good for a nation of farmers, I suppose, but of no value to anyone in our current urban/suburban society except those people who get up and go running before work. And I see no reason to encourage them.

DST haters often point out “studies that prove” that the DST changeover costs us billions of dollars in lost productivity. There are three problems with these studies:

If, by the way, you think the solution is to stay on DST throughout the year, I can only tell you that we tried that back in the 70s and it didn’t turn out well. Sunrise here in Chicago was after 8:00 am, which put school children out on the street at bus stops before dawn in the dead of winter.1 It was the same on the East Coast. Nobody liked that.

People complain about the complications DST causes in scheduling, especially in our connected world where international phone calls have to be arranged between people in countries whose time changes occur at different points in the calendar. This is a real problem, but only because our vaunted technology has let us down.

The set of rules for calendars, time zones, and clock changes is exactly the sort of thing computers should be good at handling for us, but because of programmer arrogance and incompetence, we end up with problems that shouldn’t exist. In the past few years we’ve had Zunes that wouldn’t boot, Playstations that wouldn’t play, and iPhone alarms that wouldn’t alarm (again and again and again).

Because the rules are already in place, programmers only have to learn what they are and implement them. This is where the incompetence and arrogance come in. Programmers don’t bother to learn the rules and think they can be tossed off in a few lines of code. We end up with devices that promise to keep us on track but are less reliable than a paper calendar and a windup alarm clock.

So instead of signing a stupid petition, agitate for better programmers. And then go have a nice walk after dinner tomorrow; it’ll still be light out.


  1. And if you’re wondering why I’m not accounting for predawn light in this case, it’s because winter skies tend to be more overcast and don’t provide as much twilight as summer skies do. ↩︎