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Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Every spring, experts offer advice for adjusting to daylight-saving time, which begins Sunday.

But I never follow any of it, including the theory, developed by a physician at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, that a human body may very well stay on standard time when clocks switch to DST. That agency suggests that, to counter the “persistence of time” effect, a body simply gets up an hour earlier on the Saturday before DST starts on Sunday.

Thinking about time is tricky. I will go to my deathbed trying to figure out the time difference between San Diego and Sydney, or any other city the other side of the international date line. DST is not that difficult, yet it is so easy to think, at 2 a.m., “Well, if I move my clock radio up to 3 a.m., then it will get light sooner.”

Of course it does not. It gets light later. My own personal wake-up alarm is set year-round for 5:30 a.m. This week, knowing DST is coming, I look outside at 5:30 and say, “This is the amount of light that next week we will have at 6:30. So, it will be darker at 5:30 than it is right now. Won’t it?”

No one has convinced me that cows worry about things like that, but farmers insist they do. Maybe the cows know as much as the experts. Suppose a cow knows what time it is. Suppose the cow knows for certain that it is 2 a.m. Now you tell the cow, “OK, now it is 3 a.m., instead of two.” The cow is going to go on behaving just like it were 2 a.m., no way around it.

The technique: Go to bed earlier Friday night, and get up an hour earlier Saturday morning. Then do the same thing Saturday night and Sunday morning. If you have trouble getting up, go outside, where the sunlight will help wake up your body.

They also say to move up mealtimes one hour Saturday, and to get a lot of exercise to raise body temperature and promote sleep Saturday night.

I never do any of that. If I get up an hour earlier, it is to go either fishing or to the airport. And if I get up at 4:30 a.m., instead of 5:30 a.m., you just cannot convince me there will be sunlight out there to encourage my body, and I am actually glad. Life is too easy as it is. My ancestors’ bodies knew what time it was, and they had to get up at all hours to deal with erupting volcanoes and saber-toothed tigers and herds of Goth invaders on the rampage, without a sleep behavioralist anywhere in sight to give them helpful tips.

Life has just gotten easier all the time. I have never had to dig a well, never crossed a prairie in a covered wagon, never walked through snowdrifts five miles to school. A few tough things should be preserved, and getting through daylight-saving time is certainly one.

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