Thursday, November 01, 2007
Are you in rhythm?
I love seasonal things: the leaves turning in Central Park, black tights and especially skiing - so why is it I much prefer to "spring forward," and feel a little off when it's time to "fall back?"
Biologically - I may have it backwards.

Nights get longer, days get shorter - but as counterintuitive as it sounds, new research suggests we should actually feel a little better when we move back from daylight saving time to standard time, at 2 a.m. Sunday, than we do come spring.

It has to do with your circadian clock, which - even more than your BlackBerry alarm- is your brain's master timekeeper. It governs sleep and wake cycles and body functions. Circadian rhythms naturally follow the sun in terms of sleep patterns, providing synchronicity as the seasons change. It's not just we humans who are affected by circadian cycles - they govern rhythmic changes in the behavior and physiology of most species.

When you feel alert - sleepy - want to eat, even the urge to urinate (less frequently at night) - all circadian.

Now, a large German study looks at what happens when man fools with Mother Nature's clock. Analyzing subjects who kept sleep records, researchers found sleeping patterns work clockwise, and the end of daylight savings time is how the body naturally wants to work - and our sleep and peak activity levels readily adjust.

But the study found when daylight-saving time kicks in come March and we lose that hour of sleep, it goes against our natural circadian rhythm - and we feel out of whack.

This should fuel the argument that daylight saving time - practiced by one-fourth of the world - messes with human physiology more than it should. Keep in mind, daylight saving time didn't evolve to get us in sync with the universe - it's a man-made thing designed to save energy.

So what if you're NOT feeling so energetic as you fall back, as we theoretically should?

We are in for shorter days, and that may burden folks who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. You may feel tired, blue or crave carbs - all telltale symptoms of SAD. Experts say the best way to deal with that is to maximize your exposure to light (natural light is best,) plus, exercise in the morning and regulate your sleep schedule.

Does changing the clock affect how you feel? We'd like to hear from you.
Daylight-saving time is an artificial hassle whose problems outweigh any small benefits, IMO. This year is even worse than usual, since extended DST conflicts with many timed gadgets such as video recorders that were pre-set to adjust to the old schedule.

Please leave time the same year-round!
When are people going to learn that there is a fixed 24 hours per day and no amount of changing the hands on a clock is going to effect that basic fact. The cost of changing them all is millions of times more expensive than just leaving them alone. Just think of all the accidents that happen because of this futile ritual.
I'd rather not have this back and forth time flip too. It takes me quite a while to adjust in the spring, and it's easier in the fall, so I match the expectations.
I think it would be kinder to farmed animals to let them experience their own rhythms too.
I always feel sluggish until we get our hour back
Why can't we just live with it, one way or other and stop this silliness.
I am not such a fan of daylight savings times. I frequently have bouts of insomnia and it worsens after we 'Spring forward.'

I long to 'Fall back' to shorter days and longer night hours... it does help my insomnia.
i'm starting to think that I may have SAD because whenever the clock changes, i crave carbs like crazy and i get rather depressed too. Why can't leave the time the same? It messes with my internal clock, mainly because i'm a student and I have a morning physics lab and I was in Band in high school, so I wish that DST never existed. Plus, usually near DST, I feel completely drained as well.
I vote we put the time 1/2 hour in the middle and never change it again. Let people arriving in our country work out the time difference.
2 years ago I developed 3 cases of staph infections. I bought a used washing machine that appeared in great shape. I moved from Charlotte to Greensboro and that is when I got my 1st staph infection. 1 month later, I got another staph infection and 3 months later I got my 3rd staph infection. I noticed there was rust inside the washing machine and my question to you Dr. Gupta is, "Can rust in a washing machine cause MRSA?"
Thank you Dr. Gupta for saying what our minds and bodies have been telling us. If we must have a shift in time, it should be more in sync with the seasons. We need to fall back in Sept when fall begins.
Finally confirmation of what I always suspected - I always feel more balanced and energetic when the time changes back. Even though it is nice to have daylight during the summer after work, I'd rather live by the 'natural' clock.
I think that whoever changed the time for whatever reason, should change it back the way it was. I have a hard time adjusting to the change. It's been like that ever since I was a child.(Now a senior citizen).
I think that once again, just when it was nice with light still at 5 pm, the government goes and screws it all up by making us turn the clocks back one hour.
I would just like to add that as a high school teacher I greatly appreciate the "fall back" AND the "spring forward". The school I teach at begins classes at 7:25 and without the fall back I was driving in complete darkness every morning - which definitely does nothing for my morning attitude. Now, with the change I feel much more awake when I arrive. Similarly in the spring. Once we've caught up with the daylight we start heading home in the dark but once we spring forward that's no longer an issue. My vote is to keep it as is!
I felt a bit grouchy this morning and I think it is weather related. But Fall season is my favorite season. The best way to deal with summer to fall season transitions is to get more snooze time during the night. Like going to bed early and rise early (morning persons only). Late risers, I don't know how to advise you on this.

The best vitamin D and bonebuilding sun-rays come before Noon, so absorb some sunrays on you face while commuting to work.

An great-uncle of mine, who is a Hindu priest has the habit to greet the Sun (Surya entity) in the morning before leaving to work.
Hi Amy,

Kind greetings from Canada, where hibernation has begun for many not just the bears. Amy I had never heard of the terms circadian clock and Circadian rhythms! I wanted to wait and respond until after we set our clocks back. I might be a little more tired in the evening now. But we are delicate creatures if even a 1 hour change is noticed unconsciously. Interesting.

Amy I smiled when I read your cheery words about loving black tights and skiing. I adore winter too and love tartan scarves and cozy sweaters.

Although I do find my pain levels are worse in the depth of cold winter, I don’t get the winter blues. I have friends that sadly say their symptoms of SAD have already started. (we read that many in Iceland and even Eskimos are rarely diagnosed with SAD because their diets are rich in fish rich OMEGA3 fatty acids? not sure if that is true)

Thank you for this VERY interesting info Amy! I hope you have a lovely winter with LOTS of skiing too. Please take care & stay safe.

In appreciation, GT

"There is a privacy about winter which no other season gives you. Only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."
Ruth Stout
It annoys me terribly to "spring forward" in the spring. I really feel the loss of that hour of sleep for weeks after no matter how I try
to adjust.
I believe that most of us have an affect with time change /weather deprevation. I sleep better in lower temperatures even though in the summer months there is air conditon available. The daylight does affect me and I notice it more as I get older.

Thank You
This change in time has become such an enemy to me and other students. The sun is up and ready to go at 7 am, shining in my face when I still need a few more hours of sleep (from going to bed at 2 after working on labs and assignments). But then it starts to get dark at 4, the most horrible thing. I'm in class at that time and I still have a long night of studying ahead. Daylight saving time really has an effect on my grades, I loose so much of my motivation when I spend all night in darkness!
As a lifelong resident of Indiana, I longed to change the clocks along with my sister, who moved to the East coast years ago. That first spring forward knocked me and my neighbors for a loop! We really did not adjust until school was out and our children no longer asked why we were putting them to bed when it was still light outside. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the rest of the world is no longer asking 'what time is it in Indiana', but it really is hard on your body. Springing forward in 2007 wasn't as bad. Falling back was, great! An extra hour of sleep was great! All in all, I think flip flopping is harder for your body, but I think it's even more important to be on the same time as everyone else.
I live in England and since our
clocks changed at the end of October have felt more the thing -
as we have had an Indian summer.
We had a really typical bad English
summer and it was very dull. I
went down with SAD after a warm
sunny spring.
I have suffered from SAD for the
last ten years (at least)and one
has to try to get more light from
September onwards. The light boxes
work really well for some people.
I have any eye condition so I am
not able to sit in direct artifical
light. The answer for me proved
to be a Conservatory where I can
get more light all year round. It
has been a great help.
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