Day Light Savings Time woes

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November 4, 2008

By Lynn Difley
Some people breeze right through the biannual change of time with no problems, but many others have difficulties getting around the fact that one day its dark when you get up, the next day it’s still light. Studies indicate that changing the clocks plays havoc with our systems in more ways than one, and the controversy over whether it is a good idea or not surfaces every year.
Daylight savings time provides more daylight hours, which provide an added opportunity for outside activities like exercise, yard work, and other benefits. It also provides more opportunities for sun exposure, which is a double edged sword, providing vitamin D synthesis, but too much leading to skin cancer. Studies have determined that heart attacks increase during the days when we set the clock forward, and decrease after the fall time change (could be related to sleep deprivation?) Studies show that although it seems like DST would help to conserve energy, in practice there is an increased energy and fuel consumption, particularly after the change occurs–perhaps the urge to pretend things are carrying on as they were before.
While we are all glad for the extra hour we gained Saturday, it will be nerve wracking driving home and attending late afternoon activities. All of a sudden, it’s dark when you are heading home, and you just aren’t used to looking for bicycle lights, kids in crosswalks at night–those kinds of things. Allow yourself a few days to really get back into ‘driving at night’ mode when we make the switch. Be extra cautious and aware that vision has diminished.
So like it or not, we are going to have to adjust to this every spring and fall, unless we live in Arizona, where they have decided to do away with the whole thing. If you have trouble with the change of scheduling:

  • Try to begin to wean yourself to an earlier schedule during the week, making the transition more gradually and less abruptly.
  • Try to exercise in the early hours, outdoors if possible. Exercise releases serotonin, responsible for our body’s time clock.
  • Avoid late evening exercise, it may interfere with your sleep patterns, although gentle exercise, stretching, or yoga, may relax you and prepare you for a deeper, more restorative sleep.
  • Eating earlier is a good idea too, to give your food plenty of time to digest before you head for bed. A heavy meal, wine and caffeine can all interfere with your ability to sleep.
  • Use light to stimulate your energy and set your internal clock.
  • Open the windows and let in the light early in the morning.
  • Spend time outside, especially in the morning, to get in touch with the natural time of day.
  • Dim the lights in the evening, as a signal to your body, its time to slow down, relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Don’t forget to give thanks for that extra hour of sleep you got on Saturday night, we could all use it.

If all else fails, move to Arizona and thumb your nose at the rest of us groggily trying to stumble through our routines, discombobulated and out of kilter.Check out Scientific American’s take on the science of adjusting to DST changes.

Leave a Reply


  1. Bill Baxter

    I have never understood why changing the clock forward or backward one hour causes a problem. US Navy submarines operate on Zulu time. Get underwazy from Pearl Harbor at 8 in the morning and the first meal served at sea is supper. You clock just got set ahead 10 hours. of course coming back you reset back the 10 hours.
    Now, on the other hand my wife will be cranky and out of sorts for several days after the clock change.

  2. John Shelton

    Isn’t Indiana also split, with areas of the state participating in DST and other areas not?

  3. John Shelton

    I personally do not feel much “jet lag” or have any particular issues with my internal clock with daylight saving time, but it sure does screw up scheduling. The only advice I have for congress and daylight saving time is: LEAVE THE COTTON-PICKIN’ CLOCK ALONE!!!!! If it is desireable for a few, many, or ALL communities and municipalities in the country to have a different schedule for schools, stores, gov’t offices, etc, that is fine. Let the local school boards, Chambers of Commerce, merchant groups, etc. set winter schedules and summer schedules. If a commuter bus has winter and summer schedules, that is fine, too. LEAVE THE COTTON_PICKIN’ CLOCK ALONE. Airline schedules, train schedules, factory schedules, and other commercial enterprises function smoother if all times are from a fixed base (standard time for the time local zone).

  4. Bob

    Actually, Arizona is not completely free of DST. Some of the Indian reservations observe it.

  5. Starr Piercy

    I haven’t had any trouble at all with DST, but my little dog is SO confused! Funny how animals can sense things we can’t.

  6. David Flack

    Actually it’s “Daylight Saving Time.” Also, DST gives farmers an extra hour to grow their crops. Without it we would all be paying much more for our food.