“Spring Ahead”, “Fall Back”. For most of us, the twice yearly adjustment to our clocks can bring annoyance and dread. Especially when we lose an hour. It can be a loss of sleep, productivity, or cheery disposition. Many ask why because we don’t really know the purpose of gaining or losing an hour.
The history of Daylight Savings Time began in 1918 as ” An Act To save daylight and to provide standard time, for the United States.” (S. 1854). However, over the years, some states did not participate, time changes were not uniform and the people grumbled (as they do today). The law was repealed and reinstituted several times, with the last version occurring in 2007 to save energy. There has not been any major significant energy savings from this practice.
Not surprisingly, most see the time change as a nuisance. Who cares about more light when you wake up or end your day? If anything, it disrupts our circadian rhythm. It can take days to weeks to get yourself “right” again. My circadian rhythm certainly was challenged this year . “Springing ahead” messed up my week. My first two days sleep was off. I was fatigued almost 5 days. I am starting to feel like my internal clock has reset.
Circadian Rhythm is our natural, inborn 24-hour clock that gets us alert when it is light outside and brings our day to a restful close when it is dark. It is actually a group of master control genes that turns hundreds of other genes in tissues and cells off and on once every 24 hours. Everyday activities can be affected by our internal clock. Dr. Karyn Esser, PhD, a pioneer in Circadian Rhythms, notes “when the clocks in your body out of alignment, it can feel like jet lag… Your brain is in one time zone, your heart is in another, your intestines in another, muscles in another, and so on. And you only start to feel better when things get back in synchrony.” However, so much of life has interfered with this natural rhythm, that our bodies seem to stay out of sync. Commuting, night-shifts, stress, all-nighters, and stimulants are just a few of the things that interrupt our day-night pattern. So many individuals have sleep problems, and poor, inadequate sleep contributes to poorer health. Additionally, clarity of thought is affected with fatigue and inadequate sleep. Our bodies and minds need to rest.
The main sleep disorder most people are familiar with is insomnia. It can affect you for weeks to years. There are numerous causes from stress, travel, changes in work hours, medications, pain, to serious health conditions. Improving sleep time requires lifestyle changes, improving bedtime routines, and finding ways to decrease stress and worry. There are many ways to increase restfulness and sleep. Besides meditation and mindfulness techniques, we can reduce caffeine, avoid working past midnight on projects and studies, and finding ways to adjust our work commutes. Other options may include taking melatonin or Valerian root, diffusing Lavender essential oil, or herbal teas such as Camomile or Lemon Balm.
Last, but not least, consider joining the campaign to eliminate Daylight Savings Time! It can be one less assault on our internal clock.
(Resource: Medscape article- Circadian Clock Plays a Role in Health, Peak Performance May 08, 2019)