Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Surviving Daylight Savings Time

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope you are wearing green!

It is day four of Daylight Savings Time. I slept better last night and feel a little more alert but the last few days have been really rough. I had constantly felt like I had been hit in the head with a hammer. I felt dazed, sleepy,achey, irritable, and had a terrible craving for sweets. Large amounts of coffee did not help. I absolutely hate Daylight Savings Time.

At least I haven’t had any accidents. My niece slipped on an index card and fell down the stairs bruising her tailbone first thing Monday morning. Research shows that the incidence of auto accidents slightly increases during the first week of daylight saving time due to sleep deprivation. (Sleep Deficit, Fatal Accidents, and the Spring Shift to Daylight Savings Time (Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 1/1/1998)).

Daylight Savings time is really bad for people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. These people have depression due to the lack of light in the fall and winter and are just starting to feel better with the increasing light of spring. Treatment with bright light is very beneficial for people suffering from SAD especially in the morning hours when they first wake up. (National Alliance for Mental Health)

It also affects circadian rhythms. The circadian system works with the biological clock and is controlled by the brain. It is a 24 hour clock which is influenced by light and dark and regulates wake/sleep cycles, body temperature, and the release of hormones. Daylight Saving time can be very disruptive to a person’s biological clock.

Daylight Savings Time was Benjamin Franklin’s idea but it was first implemented during World War I to save energy. The purpose is to make better use of daylight allowing people to have an extra hour of sunshine to enjoy long summer evenings. There may be a slight savings of energy today.

There are a few things you can do to make daylight savings time easier. Move Saturday dinner up an hour the day before the time change to help your body start the adjustment earlier. Go to bed an hour earlier Saturday and especially Sunday evening. Prepare for Monday morning the night before. Eat a nutritious breakfast and keep up with your regular exercise to reduce stress. Take good care of yourself.

It will take a few days but we will eventually get used to it. We’ll certainly enjoy those long sunny afternoons and evenings!

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