For a long time now, I’ve suspected I’m not built for the modern world. I feel nauseous squashed in busy tube carriages, I get stressed by my phone constantly yelling notifications at me and I’m waterboarded by unmanageable volumes of lifemin. The modern world is so loud, bright and exhausting that I retreat home and am asleep on the sofa in front of Bake Off because I just can’t keep pace with it all.
This all culminates in a constant feeling of being on the back foot. I often feel like I just can’t catch up to everyone else. Almost like I live in a different time zone to the rest of the world. And then autumn comes, the clocks change and finally, I can breathe easily.
I love the clocks going back. And not just for the obvious reason of getting an extra hour in bed, which I don’t even think is a thing because I just... wake up earlier the morning after the clocks change. The reason why I think I’m able to wake up easier in the first place is that I’m finally in tune with my circadian rhythm. The bonus is that everyone else now has to fall into line with me, rather than the other way around.
I’m a natural morning person, so skewing the day in favour of extra light earlier suits me just fine. As for the early evenings, maybe this is my vampiric Transylvanian roots coming out, but I like it when they draw in early. Endless summer nights stress me out. I struggle to delineate the end of the working day and then I feel guilty wanting to get into bed when there are still slivers of light in the sky. As someone who’s on a never-ending quest for cosiness, hibernating in the winter fills me with joy. Hygge might have been a passing fade for everyone else, but it’s a state of being for me.
Of course, I say all of this from the luxury of setting my own schedule. I have horrid memories from when I worked in a basement office of leaving the house in the dark and also returning in the dark. My desk is now next to a big, bright window. It’s not a big deal for me to wait until the sun is up before taking the dog for a walk. I can and do spend time outside in the hours when it is light. The clocks changed, I adjusted accordingly and it was no big deal.
Every year when the clocks move, a national debate erupts over whether we should still participate in the archaic practise of daylight saving. One of the common arguments given for its abolition is that workers, rightly, don’t want to be going to and from work in the dark. I don’t think the real issue is the clocks changing – the problem is the number of rigid hours office workers are expected to sit indoors, often in windowless offices with little opportunity to see daylight.
To state the obvious: when the clocks move, the length of the day itself doesn’t change. There is a parallel here with the resistance many companies have in offering flexible hours to their employees. The focus shouldn’t be when the work gets done, just whether it gets done at all. If you work somewhere which enforces strict hours, you lose daylight hours because you don’t have the autonomy to shift your schedule to better suit you.
If more of us had the opportunity to listen to our internal clocks and to find our own time zones, how much happier we would all be.