This weekend, nearly everyone in the U.S. will need to set back their clocks one hour as Daylight Saving Time comes to an end.
For over 100 years, governments and states have been using Daylight Saving Time to make better use of natural daylight and conserve energy.
Benjamin Franklin introduced the idea a century ago, to make sure that people's active hours coincide with daylight hours so that less artificial light is needed and we save energy.
Modern society - with its computers, TV-screens, and air conditioning units - uses more energy, no matter if the sun is up or not. In fact, many experts say the amount of energy saved from falling back and springing forward.
However, proponents of Daylight Saving Time argue that longer evenings motivate people to get out of the house and contribute to better health.
When we spring forward, many people feel motivated by the natural light, even though they are losing an hour of sleep.
According to surveys and reports, only about 30 percent of Americans see the purpose of Daylight Saving Time.
Do the pros outweigh the cons?
According to studies, changing the time, even if it is only by one hour can cause disruptions to our internal body clock that is regulated by daylight, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm; and can trigger underlying health issues.
The early evening darkness after the end of the Daylight Saving Time period is linked to depression.
More sleep does equal better health
On the Monday after the transition in the fall heart attack rates decrease.
The risk of suffering a heart attack is also increased when Daylight Saving Time begins. However, the extra hour of sleep we get when we fall back at the end of DST has in turn been linked to fewer heart attacks.
KREM 2 had to opportunity to talk with David Swanson, RRT, Registered Polysomnographic Technologist or Registered Sleep Technician from Providence Holy Family Hospital Sleep Center.
He said that for most people, the resulting tiredness is simply an inconvenience. However, you get to the people who work night shift, shift work, and people with insomnia and one hour in either direction can really change things adversely a lot and can have more serious consequences.
For example, the extra hour of sleep we get at the end of DST has in turn been linked to fewer heart attacks and car accidents ….however losing one hour of afternoon daylight after setting the clocks back to standard time can trigger mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression.
Transition through the time change
Even though disrupting the circadian rhythm can have some serious effects, people tend to bounce back.
“Young people can reset their circadian rhythm faster than older people – within a week or two you should be back on schedule/ reset,” Swanson said.
He explained that the fall back could actually help you catch up on your sleep debt.
“A lot of people don’t understand sleep debt. It is cumulative,” Swanson said. “If you miss one hour of sleep for five days of the week, that’s a five-hour sleep debt, so you need to gain five hours of sleep the next week to make up for that.”
Being tired can decrease productivity, concentration, and general well-being. There are some simple ways of making it easier to handle the clock change. Start by eating a healthy breakfast first thing. Food tells your body it is the start of the day.
Also, the circadian rhythm is a tricky thing and some people are more sensitive than others. Providence Sleep Center suggests going to bed a half our later a few days prior to the clock change, set your alarm to wake up a little later (if it does not interfere with your work schedule) and do the opposite thing in the spring. This makes it easier to get out of bed on Monday morning.
In case you were wondering, your pets probably won’t notice a difference – typically, they’re waiting on us to wake up anyway!