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C-Force: Is Daylight Saving Time Darkening Your Day?

: Chuck Norris on

I don't know about you, but I was not prepared for the second Sunday in March. I woke up that morning at what I believed to be the usual time, but it was black as a winter's night outside. I was confused until it suddenly dawned on me (at least an hour before it actually dawned) that I was witnessing the start of daylight saving time. It was that annual day of the year when clocks are shifted one hour ahead. In 2024, DST officially started at 2 a.m. on March 10.

The day had caught me unaware. I had not prepared myself earlier in the day by participating in the time-honored ritual of setting clocks, cellphones, watches and all manner of electronics one hour ahead. Then I also realized all these timekeeping devices were way ahead of me. They all reset themselves automatically.

Leading up to March 10, Everyday Health reminded us that it is "important to prepare your body and mind for losing an hour of sleep when DST starts." Everyday Health's Lauren Bedosky writes that according to Michael Awad, chief of sleep surgery at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, "cutting sleep short one hour on one night might not sound that detrimental to health at first glance, (but) the lost hour can have significant effects, especially among the many of us sleeping less than the recommended seven to nine hours (per night).

"The time change can also have lasting effects on your body's internal clock beyond the first night that you 'spring forward,'" Bedosky writes. "You can think of your circadian rhythm as the internal schedule your body follows, which helps keep daily bodily functions (not just sleeping and waking, but things like metabolism, too) regularly happening at the right times. Your internal clock is accustomed to daylight and darkness consistently happening at certain times of the day. It can take time to adjust to changes, which is why jet lag happens."

Time magazine's Lynne Peeples describes circadian rhythm as "a symphony of tiny timekeepers. ... Circadian clocks keep time everywhere from your liver and lungs to your nose and toes. They rely on the planet's predictable patterns to stay harmonized and, in turn, to keep your brain and body running optimally. The most powerful of these cues is the rising and setting sun. Seeking bright mornings and dark evenings helps ensure your daily rhythms of alertness, metabolism, and strength, among other aspects of your physiology, peak at the right times."

According to the Time report, "Modern life dampens crucial time-telling signals, blurs the boundaries of day and night, and confuses our internal clocks. This disruption may be invisible to us, but the consequences can be profound. ... They range from poor sleep, reduced productivity, and altered mood to greater risks of weight gain, digestive disorders, and heart disease."

There now is a burgeoning clinical field called "circadian science" fixated on our broken inner clocks once natural daily rhythms are disrupted.

"We can move the hands on a clock, but we can't fool the body," writes Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright in a 2022 report in The Atlantic. "Our bodies evolved, over millions of years, to be exquisitely attuned to the sun's rhythm. When we wake and see sunlight in the morning, it trips off a cascade of chemicals in our brains that coordinate mental and physical health. Morning sunlight (even through the clouds on a winter day) is vital. ... Daylight saving time is particularly dangerous for teenagers, who are already struggling to stay in sync with the sun. Teens have a natural delay in their biological clock. This phenomenon is seen across cultures -- and even across species -- and may be evolution's way of giving teenagers more independence. Their melatonin -- the drowsiness hormone -- rises later in the evening, prompting them to go to sleep later and wake up later than the rest of us. ... Modern-day adolescents are already the most sleep-deprived population in human history. By their senior year, high-school kids on average are getting six and a half hours a night, when they should be getting eight to 10."

 

The Atlantic report notes that a sleep-deprived brain is slower to react and makes more mistakes. "It also skews toward sadness and anger."

While our bodies adjust to the new schedule after a few days or a week, according to Everyday Health, "there's evidence the change may still affect our health, and more specifically heart health. For example, in one past study, researchers found a 24 percent increase in heart attack risk the first Monday of DST in the spring."

There are ways to lessen these negative effects. Bedosky writes, "the more consistent your sleep schedule is before the switch, the less of a change your body will have to make when the time change happens, Awad says. ... Another major driver of our circadian rhythm is food. ... In general, it's a good idea to stop eating three to four hours before bedtime."

Some experts believe you should avoid daytime naps, but not all agree. Jade Wu, a sleep medicine specialist and author of the book "Hello Sleep," explains to NPR's Andee Tagle that taking a long nap, especially later in the day, can negatively affect your nighttime sleep. Wu says keeping naps "consistent, early and brief" can have health benefits. "It makes us less biased towards negative stimuli and more flexible in our thinking," almost like "a performance-enhancing drug without the drug."

Tagle reports that a "2023 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes who napped had 'more power, faster sprints, more stamina and felt fatigue less quickly.' ... The experts we spoke to say to keep your naps between 10 minutes to an hour, tops."

Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at http://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

 

 

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