If people seem a bit more salty Sunday, it might be because springing ahead to Daylight Savings Time (DST) has cost them more than just an hour of sleep.
But , don’t blame the farmers for the hour hopping. It was Congress. In 1966, it passed the Uniform Time Act making Daylight Savings Time the law of the land with an opt out that only Hawaii and many of Arizona took.
Since then , governments throughout the globe have discussed scrapping the double yearly time transition; to no avail. [They must have run out of time to create a decision.] Recently, a group of U.S. Senators introduced legislation that would end the time change and make DST permanent.
If passed, the bill will do more than just reclaim an hour of daylight. It helps our health.
The biggest effect Daylight Savings Time can have on us is that the disruption of our circadian rhythm, Nicole M. Avena, PhD., an assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told Medical Daily in an email. “We might only be “springing” forward an hour, but this time change can affect our sleep cycle. ”
Darker mornings can leave us feeling tired even when we wake up at our normal time. Conversely, sunlight later into the day can make us more awake. And that lost hour of sleep has been linked to an increase in traffic accidents and suicides, Dr. Avena wrote. In addition, it can affect our immune system.
The immune system comprises many inflammatory regulators which help our bodies react to disease and other pathogens, wrote Dr. Avena, also a visiting professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. “The circadian clock acts as a kind of sensor for the immune system. If our circadian rhythm is interrupted , there can be excessive inflammation in the body. ”
How do we best counter the effects of the time change ? Most sleep experts, Dr. Avena composed , suggest that as the time-change approaches, people should wake up 10 to 15 minutes before each morning until they are waking up about an hour earlier than usual . Keep a consistent sleep schedule, sleep in a darkened room, and don’t eat, drink alcohol or caffeine late at night.
Additionally , ditch your electronic equipment well before going to bed. A small survey by Sleep Junkie, a sleeping science and review site , found that people who turned off their electronics two hours before going to bed had slept better than people who watched television or listened to a podcast before nodding off.
Creating a fantastic sleep environment will help you keep your regular , Dr. Avena stated . “If you are having trouble falling to sleep, you may wish to consider a supplement such as melatonin, which naturally rises in our bodies before we fall asleep. ”
Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist and book author who has written extensively about health and medicine. His work has appeared in national and regional magazines and newspapers.