[Guest post by DRJ]
Be sure to set your clocks back one hour if you live in a location that observes Daylight Savings Time. The time change takes effect a week later than usual because of changes to the DST law:
“The time change was altered by federal legislation to persist for one month longer this year, based on the debatable presumption that this will reduce energy consumption by about 1 percent. It goes into effect at 2 a.m. Sunday.
The change stems from an energy bill that lengthened daylight saving by four weeks. It kicked in this year with clocks rolling ahead by one hour on the second Sunday in March, rather than the first Sunday of April. They’d typically be set back on the last Sunday in October, but that changed, too, to the first Sunday in November.”
Some experts believe the time change plays havoc with our internal clocks:
“Morning light is the most important light for synchronizing our circadian rhythms,” said Dr. David Avery, a psychiatrist at the University of Washington who specializes in studying the connection between light, sleep and depression. Circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour cycle for life on Earth.
When daylight-saving time is in effect and reduces the amount of morning light, Avery said, the risk of seasonal depression in some people increases. He said traffic accidents might also be expected to increase as morning commuters struggle against biology.
“It’s not natural to wake up in the dark,” he said. “What our ancestors did was wake up at dawn, whenever dawn came.” This, Avery said, is hardwired into our brain and it doesn’t simply adjust in our bodies when we adjust the alarm clock.
“From a biological point of view, it really doesn’t make any sense to do daylight-saving time,” agreed Horacio de la Iglesia, a UW neurobiologist who studies how the brain governs some of the other biological clocks in the body.
Most people know the brain operates according to a biological clock on this 24-hour solar cycle. De la Iglesia has shown that the human body actually depends upon many such clocks, a coordinated network that needs to work in synchronicity. “There are biological clocks in the liver, lungs and other organs as well,” he said. “We have these circadian rhythms because they allow the body to anticipate cyclical events.”
However, Dr. Avery has some practical advice for people who have problems with sleep and time changes:
“As a doctor, he recommended that those who find this change difficult turn on the lights upon awakening and turn them down before retiring in the evening. The dark-light cycle, Avery said, can be adjusted to some extent.
And stop staring at your “Microsoft Blue” computer screen late at night, he said. Blue light appears to suppress the hormone melatonin, Avery said, which is released by the body to induce sleep. “I’ve changed my screen background to orange, which subtracts blue light,” Avery said.”
It’s almost midnight where I live (CST). Time to go orange.