What Will You Do With the “Extra Hour”?

What Will You Do With the “Extra Hour”?

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Welcome. Daylight saving time ends this weekend, clocks “falling back” one hour to standard time on Sunday. Depending on where you live, this may mean earlier morning light and sunsets that strike in the afternoon. Larks and owls have been having it out over the utility of changing the clocks since the practice was instituted in the United States during World War I to conserve energy. “What do the men around here do with their extra hour?,” one “ruralite” was reported to have asked of Marcus M. Marks, a Manhattan borough president who advocated for daylight saving time. “They spend it in the dance halls and then the trouble begins,” he claimed.

It’s not likely any of us will be spending our extra hour in the dance halls this year. To ease the transition, you might make a plan for Sunday evening: a pre-dinner walk outside with family or a friend? A Thermos of soup or tea to sip along the way? If you’re like me, you’ll begin changing your clocks some time Saturday evening, mentally getting used to the shift before it occurs, trying to avoid that Sunday morning dysphoria when you’re up earlier than usual, aware of the extra hour but uneasy with what to do with it. Parents of small children might move bedtime half an hour later for a few days to minimize disruption to kids’ schedules. We can prepare, spend part of Sunday planning the week’s dinners. A braise, perhaps?

Of course, there are those who love the extra hour of sleep that changing the clocks affords them. Scandinavians are reputed to be in possession of a “positive wintertime mind-set” that I find miraculous and am determined to locate in myself this winter. In 1923, Connecticut “farmer legislators,” upset with how daylight saving disrupted their schedules, attempted to pass a bill that called for anyone who “shall willfully publicly display any time-measuring instrument or device intentionally set to indicate any time other than the standard time” to be fined or jailed. Some prefer standard time because they like to wake up after the sun has risen. (I’d like a word with these people.)

This year, we’re more in tune with the clock ticks, the way the light looks in the house at midday, at 3 p.m., and it’s likely the time shift will be more perceptible, whether it’s welcomed or not. We’re habitués of our own homes at odd hours lately, and we’ve grown accustomed to the sun’s angles at specific times of day. We’ll reset, of course, as we do each fall, get used to the switch — it’s only an hour, after all. But if you’ve been tracking the tiny things that have a big impact lately, you might stop to notice, to observe with interest if and how this small change reverberates.


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