There are very few upsides to living with a severe mental illness. One of them is quite a bit of free time. Previous times the clocks have gone back have been a nuisance to me. Especially since I started taking antidepressants. For whatever reason, my brain is very sensitive to the time I take them. If I take my dose late, even by only half an hour, my reality is thrown from side to side like a ship in rough seas.
To be taken safely, my medications have to be taken a set time apart (therefore at fixed intervals in the day). This means that twice a year the time I take my medication shifts by an hour each day. Why don’t you take your medication at the same time all year round? I hear you ask…
Ah, yeah, about that. It took me about three years to figure out this was an option. Not my brightest moment. Well, not my brightest three years, in fact.
I have to take my first pill at 6 am in the summer. This becomes 5 am in winter. Not wanting to get up that early, I decided that this year, instead of switching my brain to GMT, I would stay at BST and keep track of both times. I set half the clocks in my house to BST and the other half to GMT in preparation. I realise this may seem mentally unhinged. However, this didn’t matter to me as I knew I was already mentally unhinged.
If I am being honest, the first few days were pretty stressful. I spent most of the time confused as to what time it was. Every moment I wanted to know the time, I had to first remember if the clock/watch was set to BST or GMT and then do the arithmetic in my head accordingly to ascertain where I was in my daily schedule. I began to grow worried brains were not capable of keeping track of two clocks at the same time.
However, within a couple of weeks, I was breezily keeping both times in my head as if it were the easiest thing in the world. After the first month, I realised I wasn’t the crazy one.
I have read many concerns about staying with BST. Most notably “You start work when it is still dark outside”. Turns out, if you live in the south of England – no you don’t! While technically sunrise wouldn’t occur until 10 minutes after 9 am BST for a couple of weeks of the year at its latest, it starts to get brighter well before then. Civil Twilight, the point at which it starts getting noticeably lighter, begins at 8.30 am BST in Oxford at its latest (mid-January). Even in Aberdeen, Scotland, the latest start for Civil Twilight is 8.58 am BST.
It certainly took me a bit by surprise to go on a morning walk at 7.45 am GMT while it was light outside. I thought to myself “Why don’t we just stick with daylight savings time?” Not only was my mood significantly better due to the later daylight hours of BST (i.e. now it didn’t get dark at 3 pm), my sleep had not been disrupted due to the hour shift. BST felt natural to me. Winter didn’t seem as harsh.
There is an argument for GMT all year round instead of BST. The reasoning is that the sun is, on average, overhead at noon instead of 1 pm, which supposedly aligns better with our circadian rhythm. The hour difference in the positioning of the sun didn’t seem to have any effect on me. Even if it did, the benefits of the lift of mood later sunsets give far outweigh any small difference in the positioning of the sun at noon.
So, yeah, why isn’t year-round daylight savings time a thing yet?!