The clocks went back last weekend - one of the most abrupt winter markers, drawing us ever closer to the solstice and the shortest day of the year. The idea of Daylight Saving Time was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, who believed that if we started our days earlier and made the most of the light, we could save money on candles. It wasn’t until 1907 that a man called William Willett, a keen golfer, equestrian, and the great-great-grandfather of Chris Martin from Coldplay, started campaigning for Britain to move the clocks back and forth twice a year. By 1916, with the war driving energy prices up, Daylight Saving Time had come into use.
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It’s always interesting when our behaviour changes are motivated by economics rather than biology. Is it healthy to alter our circadian rhythms like this? Or should we embrace the ebb and flow of the yearly cycle? I’ve been thinking a lot about seasonal living while writing my upcoming book on the subject (due September 2024) and how our disconnection from nature seems to correlate with our estrangement from our own animal selves. Productivity in one area often comes at the cost of another - and then we wonder why we’re all stressed, depressed and plagued by inequality. It’s a difficult problem with no simple solutions, but definitely something that’s been floating around my head over the last few months, and a subject I’m enjoying diving into while I write my book.