miscellaneous recovery

Love it. Hate it. It’s Here – Daylight Saving Time

As many people settle into, or prepare to, set their clocks ahead one hour, I ready myself for the annual ritual of jetting forward in time, much like preparing for a time-zone changing trip.

Almost one-third of Americans say they don’t look forward to these twice-yearly time changes. And nearly two-thirds would like to eliminate them completely, compared to 21 percent who aren’t sure and 16 percent who would like to keep moving their clocks back and forth. link

The idea of the shift was that having extra light later would save energy by decreasing the need for electric lighting. This idea has been shown to be inaccurate, as heating needs may increase in the morning in the winter, while air conditioning needs can also increase in the late afternoon in the summer.

Another pro-daylight saving time (DST) argument has been that crime rates drop with more light at the end of the day. While this has been proved true, the change is very small, and the negative health effects outweigh the benefits of lower crime rates.

After World War II, designating the start and end dates for daylight saving time fell to state governments. At that time, this created many railroad scheduling and safety problems. To alleviate that issue, in 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which set the nationwide dates of daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. In 2007, Congress expanded the period in which daylight saving time is in effect from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

However, the Uniform Time Act allows states and territories to opt out of daylight saving time. Arizona and Hawaii are on permanent standard time, along with Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

Most recently, other states are considering whether to stop falling back and springing ahead. Several U.S. states have legislation and resolutions under consideration to support permanent standard time, while many others have been or are considering permanent daylight saving time. Legislation and resolutions for permanent standard time have increased from 15 percent in 2021 to 31 percent in 2023.

The spike in activity among states seeking to break the cycle reflects how many people are recognizing the downsides of this practice.

Now that you have some history, it’s time to look at the societal and health impacts of Daylight Saving Time:

  • Sleep Disruption: When we spring forward or fall back, our sleep patterns get disrupted. Losing an hour of sleep during the spring shift can lead to daytime sleepiness and difficulty adjusting to the new schedule.
  • Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke: Studies have linked circadian disruption from DST to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and inflammatory markers.
  • Mental Health Issues: The abrupt time change can trigger depressive episodes and cognitive problems.
  • Traffic Accidents: Moving clocks forward one hour is associated with a 6% increased risk of fatal traffic accidents due to sleep deprivation and circadian scrambling1.
  • Workplace Injuries: Fatigue resulting from DST can lead to workplace accidents.
  • Despite the original intention to save energy, research suggests that DST does not significantly reduce electricity consumption. In some cases, it may even increase energy use due to extended daylight hours and increased air conditioning usage.
  • Medication Timing: DST affects medication schedules, potentially impacting patients who rely on precise timing for their health conditions.
  • Shift Work Disruption: For shift workers, DST can exacerbate sleep disturbances and affect overall health.
  • Productivity Loss: The time change can lead to decreased productivity and concentration in the days following the shift.
  • Business Disruptions: Companies need to adjust schedules, which can be costly and disruptive.
  • Daylight-Induced Sleeplessness: Going to bed while it’s still light outside can interfere with falling asleep.
  • Morning Drowsiness: Waking up in darkness due to the time shift can lead to grogginess.
  • Inconsistency: Not all states and countries observe DST, leading to confusion for travelers and international business.

Many of us live in areas that honor DST. Below are some practical tips to help you (and your family) manage the transition:

  1. Gradual Adjustments: Start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before the time change. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, gradually increasing the adjustment. This gradual approach can ease the transition and reduce the impact of losing an hour of sleep.
  2. Prioritize Rest: Make an extra effort to be well-rested in the week leading up to the time change. Prioritize sleep quality and ensure you’re getting enough rest before the clocks spring forward.
  3. Short Afternoon Nap: If you feel sleepy on the Sunday after the time change, consider taking a short 15- to 20-minute nap in the early afternoon. Try to keep naps no later than 3 pm, as it may affect nighttime sleep quality. Assess how napping affects your overall rest.
  4. Consistent Sleep Schedule: Avoid sleeping in an hour longer in the morning. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Even on weekends, waking up at a consistent time can make Monday mornings more manageable.

Quality sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being.

If you need support in the area of sleep, let me know.

metrorun

I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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