By Andrea Watson March 15, 2021
Yesterday I woke up, became thoroughly confused, heard my son tell me that the clocks changed and immediately went on a hunt to find out what day it was. I learned that I had woken up on Octember 42nd, 1872 and the time was precisely Reeeeeeeeeebraplahnarumphle. I was disheartened to say the least. I hate it when the time changes. Not only is this an antiquated system put in place to save on the cost of light, but it isn’t even relevant anymore. Today, we actually spend more money participating in daylight savings time. I grumpily went about my morning still confused as to whether the clocks had moved forward or backward and what it would mean for the days ahead.
So I guess the time change could possibly suck worse, if we were meant to change the clocks 2 hours ahead or back. But that’s just some Alice in Wonderland crap. I shudder at the thought. So last night I went to bed at a reasonable hour and then I woke up at 11:45 p.m. fully believing that it was time to get up for the day. the numbers on my phone told me otherwise and I went back to bed after taking some heavy duty sleeping pills. You see, the problem here is that humans are meant to be connected to the Earth and the cycles of the sun and Moon. As a pagan, I feel particularly offended when society messes with time, because it messes with my connection and with my schedule of rituals performed throughout the year. And if you want to get all theoretical about it, time isn’t a real thing anyway.
My circadian rhythms have been all stirred up and mushed into something unrecognizable at this point. Today, I am not confused, but I go about this day begrudgingly and in a perturbed state. I was thrown off balance by waking up this morning. Now, there is something you can do to put your circadian rhythms back in place. You can go camping for a week and that is like hitting a reset button. Unfortunately, I’m not able to go camping this week, because school and stuff. The best I can do is keep my regular bedtime and my regular wake up alarm time and just hope it works out. However, the best is not what people get sometimes when they experience an hour being taken away or given.
Some of the problems that are caused by daylight savings time include increased numbers of patients with heart problems, increased numbers of people with mood disorders including seasonal affective disorder, and also a jump in the number of automobile accidents. Additionally, the effects of daylight savings time can mess up your circadian rhythm so badly that you actually start losing sleep and can go into “sleep debt”, which is the cumulative result of not getting enough sleep on a daily basis. On the morning after the time change in March, people on average get 40 minutes less sleep than they regularly do. In fact, people are more susceptible to sleep deprivation in March than any other time of the year.
I kind of wish I still lived in Arizona, because they don’t observe daylight savings time, except in the Navajo Nation. Luckies. Let’s face it, nobody likes having their sleep messed with. And unless you are on meth, there’s no reason to be sleep deprived. Of course there are sleep disorders, which are helped along by daylight savings time. But sleep disorders aside, we are risking our health and sometimes our lives to adhere to this frankly stupid and disruptive way of accounting for time.
For most people the disturbing effect of daylight savings time gradually goes away over a number of weeks. However, for some people, they persist in interrupting sleep patterns in a detrimental way. Sleep deprivation has some long-term effects that can be very serious:
- Trouble with thinking and concentration
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Risk of heart disease
- Poor balance
- Memory issues
- Mood changes
- Weakened immunity
- Risk of diabetes
- Low sex drive
So what can we do to start making things better for ourselves during this horrible time of the year? Well, it’s too late this year, but next year we can start going to bed a little bit earlier before the change happens. Set your clocks to daylight savings time a couple of days early and live your day like that to kind of ease into the new schedule. This will especially help children, who feel the effects of the time change more than adults do.
Be consistent. Keep your bedtime and wake time the same every day of the week. Sleeping in on weekends feels good, and it may help catch you up on some sleep for the day. But over the long term, it can actually cause problems with your sleep schedule. Not to mention, getting out of bed the same time every morning is the number one way to improve sleep and wake functioning. Also avoid naps if they’re not part of your regular routine.
Enjoy the light. Letting natural light into your home and spending time outside in the spring light can help regulate your circadian rhythms again. Also, leaving your blinds or curtains open in your bedroom so that the natural light can come in in the morning will help wake you up with fewer issues.
Exercise during the day when you can be in the natural light. Don’t make this too close to your bedtime, as that can mess up your sleep. Allow yourself at least 2 hours of cool down time between exercising and trying to sleep.
Be mindful about what and when you eat and drink. Where I live, around midsummer, it stays light outside until 11:00 at night. So we eat almost up until even 9:00 or 10:00. But what we really need to be doing is to be eating our dinner earlier and going to bed at a reasonable time regardless of the light outside. Try to avoid spicy or fatty foods for dinner and don’t drink caffeine or alcohol within a few hours of bedtime, that’s just not a good idea.
Reduce your screen time, especially around bedtime. We all know that phones and tablets and things can help us unwind after a long day, but the problem is that these screens are very stimulating to our brains and can actually cause sleeping difficulty and insomnia. Try to get off the screens at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Sometimes things in life are just plain difficult and sometimes we absolutely, genuinely hate them. Just like my hatred of daylight savings time. Being me, I need to stay balanced and I can’t really do that when the rug of time is pulled out from under me twice a year, especially since I really don’t have a very good grasp on the concept of time anyway. So if you are anything like me, then I deeply empathize with you. Fortunately, we have some things that can make it a little better. Until next time,