Standard Time Is Back - And It's Good For Your Health

For many of us, the return to Stan­dard Time is  depress­ing. The day seems to fly by. It’s dark before it’s time to start think­ing about din­ner. But many doc­tors say the return to stan­dard time — and the extra hour of sleep you get in the morn­ing — can be healthy.

Gen­er­ally, it is always eas­ier to stay up an hour later than to go to sleep an hour ear­lier, so most peo­ple have rel­a­tively lit­tle prob­lem set­ting the clocks back in the fall,” said Dr. Steven Fein­sil­ver, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Sleep Med­i­cine at Mount Sinai School of Med­i­cine in New York, in an email. “This is because our basic cir­ca­dian rhythm (the ‘body clock’) actu­ally seems to be pro­grammed for a longer than 24 hour day. It runs a lit­tle slow.”

The cir­ca­dian clock does not change to the social change,” said chrono­bi­ol­ogy researcher Till Roen­neberg of Lud­wig Max­im­i­lans Uni­ver­sity in Munich, Ger­many. “Dur­ing the win­ter, there is a beau­ti­ful track­ing of dawn in human sleep behav­ior, which is com­pletely and imme­di­ately inter­rupted when day­light sav­ing time is intro­duced in March.” Roen­neberg, lead researcher for a study of the effects of time shifts, said that humans’ bio­log­i­cal clocks are stronger than the clocks set by Con­gress. “When you change clocks to day­light sav­ing time, you don’t change any­thing related to sun time,” Roen­neberg said.

This is one of those human arro­gances, that we can do what­ever we want as long as we are dis­ci­plined. We for­get that there is a bio­log­i­cal clock that is as old as liv­ing organ­isms, a clock that can­not be fooled. The pure social change of time can­not fool the clock.

” Though indi­vid­u­als may see their bio­log­i­cal clocks reset, and will get an “extra hour” of sleep or rest over the week­end, researchers say that the stress caused by time changes can be bad for the body. Researchers in Swe­den pub­lished a report in 2008 in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine report­ing that the num­ber of heart attacks jumps dur­ing the period imme­di­ately fol­low­ing time changes, and that those vul­ner­a­ble to sleep depri­va­tion should be extra careful.

More than 1.5 bil­lion men and women are exposed to the tran­si­tions involved in day­light sav­ing time: turn­ing clocks for­ward by an hour in the spring and back­ward by an hour in the autumn,” wrote Imre Jan­szky and Rickard Ljung, health and wel­fare researchers in Sweden.

These tran­si­tions can dis­rupt chrono­bi­o­logic rhythms and influ­ence the dura­tion and qual­ity of sleep, and the effect lasts for sev­eral days after the shifts.” Jan­szky and Ljung said that sleep depri­va­tion can affect the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, lead­ing the vul­ner­a­ble to have heart prob­lems in the days fol­low­ing Day­light Sav­ing time changes. Does Day­light Sav­ing Equal Energy Sav­ings? The seven-month period of day­light sav­ing time is man­dated by gov­ern­ments — not bio­log­i­cal clocks — which began imple­ment­ing the time switch dur­ing World Wars I and II to save energy and resources for the war effort.

From World War II until recently, day­light sav­ing in the U.S. ran from April until mid-October. But in 2007, Con­gress adjusted day­light sav­ing time to begin three weeks ear­lier and end one week later, a move they hoped would help save energy. At the time, they pointed to the fact that longer day­light in the evening hours reduced people’s need to turn on lights in their homes at night. Crit­ics of the pol­icy ques­tioned the government’s deci­sion, won­der­ing whether peo­ple would sim­ply turn on as many lights in the morn­ing hours instead. In response, the Depart­ment of Energy stud­ied the energy sav­ings in 2008. They found that dur­ing day­light sav­ing time, U.S. elec­tric­ity use decreased by 0.5 per­cent per day, which added up to 1.3 bil­lion kilowatt-hours, enough to power about 122,000 aver­age U.S. homes for a year.

Now, as day­light sav­ing time comes to its Novem­ber close, energy use will tick up again as the sun sets ear­lier in the evening. In the early morn­ing hours of Sun­day, Nov. 6, the clocks will be set back an hour, from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. For an indi­vid­ual who goes to bed at 10 p.m. on Sat­ur­day night and awak­ens eight hours later, they will wake up at 5 a.m. on Sun­day morn­ing. It will still be dark, of course, but the sun will come ear­lier than nor­mal, at 6:30 a.m.




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