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Daylight saving
This weekend, clocks go back an hour. (Image: Getty / Treatment: Tina Tiller)

SocietyApril 2, 2022

We can solve NZ’s daylight saving debacle in half an hour

Daylight saving
This weekend, clocks go back an hour. (Image: Getty / Treatment: Tina Tiller)

America is trying to end daylight saving once and for all. Here’s how New Zealand can do it too.

This weekend is shaping up nicely. On Saturday, you’ll probably have a blast. In Auckland, the autumn weather has been fantastic. Temperatures remain in the mid-20s. You might go out for brunch, or enjoy a sunny walk up Mt Eden. You could cool off with a delicious swim at Pt Chev Beach. It’s a delightful time of year, so get out there and enjoy it. You might as well, because it’s all about to be ruined.

Sunday? That’s another story. Sunday’s going to be a shocker. The day after your blissful Saturday, you’re going to wake up messy. Get ready for it. Stock up on Powerade. Get some hash browns out of the freezer, because you’re going to feel woozy. Discombobulated. Kind of jet-lagged. A tad hungover. You’ll feel like eating lunch at the wrong time. Same with dinner. Basically, you’re going to feel terrible, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Why? When the clock strikes 3am on Sunday, we all jump in our DeLoreans like dumb-asses and travel back in time, to 2am. We’re all going to be forced to repeat that hour, then deal with the consequences in the morning. It’s the completion of a sick six-month cycle that began on September 26 to maximise sunshine hours, minimise darkness, and let farmers milk their cows at a reasonable time of day.

Bollocks. Screw the farmers. I don’t even eat dairy, so I don’t care. If you can’t already tell, I am not a fan. Passionate hate is what I have for this time of year. Across my 43 years, I have experienced daylight saving 85 times and I have never gotten used to it, understood it, worked out why it exists, or who it is for. All I know is that my body hates it. Forget about thriving. When Dr Strange mucks around with the multiverse timeline, I can barely function.

Twelve years ago, when I became a parent, my hatred for this twice-yearly ritual only got worse. Kids are light sleepers at the best of times. You try telling a toddler to go back to bed because gremlins secretly changed the clocks and it’s only 6am. It doesn’t work. My kids aren’t going to let me enjoy that extra hour’s snooze. So don’t tell me this is the good one. When you have kids, there is no good daylight saving.

Don’t listen to my sleep-deprived anecdotal evidence. Listen to the experts. Research shows it really is bad for you. Car accidents go up. So do heart attacks and strokes. American hospitals report admission rates rise 24% when the clocks change. “That’s how fragile and susceptible your body is to even just one hour of lost sleep,” sleep expert Matthew Walker told Business Insider recently.

“Put your clocks back for the winter” sings Jon Toogood in Shihad’s ‘Home Again’. But what if we didn’t?

You know who else hates daylight saving? America. Right now, the country that is doing so many things wrong is doing one thing dead right. The US senate has passed the Sunshine Protection Act, and if it passes the house of representatives too, all Joe Biden has to do is rubber stamp the thing and it becomes law. From 2023, daylight saving time could become permanent. Canada and Britain are wisely exploring similar options.

We could do the same thing in New Zealand, but we don’t need laws, bills and Biden. There’s a solution so simple I don’t know why we haven’t put it in place already. Jacinda, I hope you’re reading. Are you ready? It’s going to blow your mind. Here goes.

Next time we decided to do this cooked clock clusterfuck of a thing, we change the time for just half an hour. Next April, we could all just put our clocks forward 30 minutes and be done with it. Not a second more, or less. It’s a meeting in the middle, Switzerland in the daylights savings war. Morning risers will get their sun, evening lovers will too, and the farmers will be fine.

What’s half an hour? It’s an episode of The Simpsons, with ads. It’s a family feast, according to this popular Jamie Oliver cookbook. It’s a decent walk, a solid bike ride, a great swim. It’s a nice nap. Just half an hour. Then we never do daylight saving again. It’s done. Over. Finished. We never have to tinker with our clocks again.

Sure, Shihad’s opening lyrics of ‘Home Again’ “Put your clocks back for the winter” would be rendered obsolete. But I’ll still sing along and remember all the times we did dumb things with our clocks twice a year, until we didn’t.

Keep going!