Thought Leadership

Time annoyance

By Colin Walls

I have ranted about the stupidity of daylight savings – messing with clocks unnecessarily – before. Once again, it is the time of year when life is confusing. Normally, I am 6 or 8 hours ahead of many of my colleagues, as they are located in the Central and Pacific timezones in the US and I am in the UK. Since the US introduced the idea of messing with clocks earlier each Spring, I have to contend with the time difference being 5/7 hours for a few weeks until we indulge in the practice, which we will do this coming weekend. I observe that, since I last wrote about this topic, Russia has abolished daylight savings. I was surprised to learn that my influenced reached that far East.

Although messing with time is silly while stationary, when traveling it gets so much worse …

Traveling across timezones is unnatural. I am not making a value judgment. It is just a fact – evolution did not prepare us for the experience. And yet we withstand it quite well. My mother-in-law [who is a very sprightly 80] recently traveled to Canada. Her trip there was a catalog of delays and complications. Once she got to Toronto [5 hours behind], she took the train across the country over a few days – and another 3 timezones – to end up in Vancouver, where she stayed for a couple of weeks. Her trip home was via Frankfurt – so another 9 hours forwards and 1 back – and that was fraught with even more delays and difficulties. She was glad to get home again and said that she was tired for the next couple of days. I am not sure that she believed me when I said that her experience would probably lay me low for a week.

I have never found a really effective cure for jet lag. It is generally felt that the human body adjusts its internal clock about 1 hour for each day in a new timezone. This means that, on a trip to the US West coast, it takes me about a week to get in synch. Normally that coincides with my travel home. When I get home, another week is needed to adjust back again. However, on a recent US trip, I may have found the answer …

My idea to avoid jet lag was to simply not adjust my internal clock. On a visit to California, I tried it out. I would get up at about 03:00 [my body thinks it is having a lie-in] and go out for breakfast. I would then do a bit of work and have another breakfast at about 08:00 [my body thinks it is having a late lunch]. I would proceed with the rest of my day, having lunch [my body thinks it is dinner] as normal. Then I would go to bed at about 6:00 in the evening. This meant that I did very little socializing and did not really have that much sleep. But the result was that I arrived home tired, but not jet lagged.

It just occurred to me that this approach is exactly the same philosophy as I take to daylight savings. I adjusted my lifestyle, not my clock.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at