Daylight Savings Time had always been a mild annoyance, a silly, archaic practice designed to help farmers — like sugar subsidies, but also affecting my sleep. And then came baby; and now I realize: Daylight Savings Time wastes precious night.
Trouble intrudes at both ends of the day. Yesterday after work, I drove to pick up my nine-month-old son from daycare, the evening shrouded in the deep black of a cloud-covered night. Sure, it was cozy in the car; and yes, it was calm at home; but we’ve long since worked out our nighttime ritual for a proper bedtime. It’s one of the first things a parent has to focus on, as a newborn becomes an infant and the hope of a few hours straight of sleep becomes less forlorn. Baths and books and bottles, tight hugs and equally tightly-wrapped blankets all bring bedtime sooner or later; and there’s always the option to hold and rock the baby until they sleep. Sleep, good or fitful, comes whether it’s a late summer sun or an early winter evening darkness.1
But morning… those are the hours of the day that terrify me. The baby’s alone, in his or her crib, and if the sun peeks in around the corner of a curtain, then it’s up to the baby’s sleeping skills to make it to morning wake-up time. That’s a lot to ask of a little being who can’t join in a Socratic dialogue on the value of a good night’s sleep and a consistent schedule! And, yet, Daylight Savings Time says “here, baby, here’s some bright light early in the morning that you can enjoy!”
For the parent of a baby, Daylight Savings Time is truly Nighttime Wasting Time. We’ve taken that valuable dark, that special time our babies naturally want to sleep, and we’ve shifted it to the end of their day when there are still waking hours ahead; then we took the sunshine they could have played in, and moved it to the morning when they need their last little bit of sleep. I’m sure, in a few weeks, dark will come again to the early morning, and maybe we’ll all sleep a little longer.2 But, until then, Daylight Savings time has wasted our precious natural resource, the natural darkness of night and the sleep it brings our babies.