Is your alarm still flashing ‘12:00’? Are your appliance clocks and the clock in your car an hour off for 6 months of the year? Still trying to adjust from the ‘fall back’ time switch? If you answered yes to any of these questions you can thank Daylight Saving Time (DST).
The idea of DST was first conceived by a fellow Englishman, William Willett (1857-1915), who spent the last years of his life lobbying for DST to be approved by the British Parliament. Several times, the bill came to a vote, and each time, it was defeated. Willett died in 1915, never living to see his idea achieved.
The idea behind DST is to conserve energy. And even though it’s nice that we all ‘gain an hour’ in the autumn shift, DST can wreak havoc on our bodies. So how does Daylight Saving Time (DST) this time of year affect us?
Most people prefer the autumn transition (compared to the transition during the spring when an hour is lost) because they find it easier to adjust their sleeping patterns, even though it takes most people approximately a week to adjust to the DST change. Research also shows that DST is associated with negative physical and psychological effects on the body and mind.
Sleep patterns are disturbed with the time change. The quality and amount of sleep are both important for mental and physical health. Troubled sleep is associated with depression, memory and learning deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and weakens the body’s ability to fight infections. In addition, this time change takes an hour of daylight from the afternoon, which limits outdoor activities, which in turn can be detrimental to overall health leading to obesity and chronic illnesses through a lack of physical exercise.
As autumn progresses into winter do you feel like the darker and colder weather is affecting your mood? The answer is probably yes. Days are shorter and winter is coming. This impacts a person psychologically because the amount of sunlight received during a typical day is reduced. Over time, this can lead to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a condition that typically starts in late autumn and continues through the winter with symptoms of unhappiness, low energy, loss of interest in work, reduced sex drive, and weight gain.
Here are some ways to adjust to the time change:
No matter how you slice it up or shift it around, a day is a day. We all have 24 hours, no more and no less, to work, play, eat, and sleep.
So with the health (and sleep) implications versus the energy saving advantages, what are your thoughts on Daylight Saving Time? Beneficial or not?