For those of you who feel that you never have enough hours in the day to accomplish what you need to do, your favorite time of year is about to begin this Sunday Nov. 6th.
Just how much are we really benefiting from Daylight Savings Time? Does it really save us energy? Does it affect us physically?
The idea behind it is that it’s supposed to help us save electricity. Twenty five percent of all the electricity we use for lighting and everyday small appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock back one hour, we cut the amount of electricity we consume each day. The Department of Energy has reported that during daylight savings time U.S. electricity does in fact decrease by 0.5 percent, which adds up to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours. That’s enough to power a good 122,000 homes in a year.
The Department of Transportation says during this time we save 10,000 barrels of oil each day. Traffic accidents and injuries decrease, as it’s much safer allowing drivers to travel home from work and school in daylight, which is much safer than driving in darkness. Crime rate is lower as most of us do our routine tasks typically before evening falls. Still while all of this sounds good and beneficial to us the downside is that it does affect our health. It affects our sleeping patterns causing our bodies stress.
According to a group of scientists in Germany at the “Somerset Medical Center, Sleep for Life,” just published a new study in Current Biology , say that it’s not that easy for us to adjust our internal body clocks. It messes up more then our natural biorhythms and interrupts more then just our beauty sleep. You can’t change the clock of a living organisms, as our biological clocks cannot be easily fooled.
Physiologically our bodies respond to sunlight rather than the hands on a clock.
Our hormone melatonin controls our wake and sleeping cycle. If less sunlight is around our levels go up, the body tells the brain to go to sleep. When bright light shines, melatonin production decreases, and the brain wake’s the body up. It takes a while for our body to readjust our own melatonin activity. Most of us start to increase our caffeine intake just to get us moving. Irritability and attention deficit soon follow. For those of you who aren't big coffee drinkers, our body’s starts to send messages to our brain saying we are lacking some kind of fuel that we can easily interpreted as being hungry, leading to over eating. What soon follows is stress causing us attention deficit, inability to multi-task, resulting in depression or anxiety. When all we really need is “sleep”.
It’s no wonder that The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that it’s during this of year that heart attacks risks increase.
Though these changes disruptive more then our sleep patters, The Sleep for Life Somerset Medical Center suggests:
- Maintain your regular bedtime Saturday night and awaken at your regular time. This can give you an "extra" hour of sleep the next morning and help reduce your sleep debt.
- Block out light and keep your sleeping area dark. Standard Time means sunrise will occur about an hour earlier. This can impact sleep, especially for people accustomed to awakening before or around sunrise. The light itself also can disturb sleep. It is always best to sleep in a darkened room until you wake up.
- Increase the light when you wake up. Light has an alerting affect that may help you wake up. It also will help adjust your biological clock to the "new" sleep schedule.
- If you are a "night owl" and tend to be wide awake and energetic until late and night and sleepy in the morning, start a week ahead; a gradual delay in bedtime and awakening a few days before the time change may help you adjust to the change.
- Difficulty adjusting to the time change - staying awake at night or sleeping until your desired wake up time may be helped by gradually moving bedtime and awakening later by 15 minutes every one to two days.
"An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later." -Winston Churchill
Is it all worth it? I don’t know, you tell me?