Friday, March 21, 2014

Hate Switching to Daylight Saving? Maybe You Should

Humans, like most other animals, are wedded to their routines.  So when our usual schedules are disrupted twice a year by the "spring-forward, fall-back" of our adaptation to Daylight Saving Time we get confused, sleepy, unproductive, and grumpy.  No, it's not just you.

Evidence shows numerous ill effects of the time change, from auto accidents, increased heart attacks, sleep disturbances, lower productivity, and even a spike in suicides the week after the clocks "spring forward". And it even makes us dumber--students where there is no switching to DST have higher scores on their SATs.  One possible reaction would be to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, though an experiment with that in the 1970s was halted when school children had to walk to school in the early-morning darkness.

Hunter Communiations Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The impacts of DST are likely related to our body's internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules.

Light dictates how much melatonin our bodies produce. When it's bright out, we make less. When it's dark, our body ramps up synthesis of this sleep-inducing substance. Just like how jet lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight saving time is similar to scooting one time zone over for a few months.

The problems with DST are the worst in the spring, when we've all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our natural clocks using the light. When out of nowhere (at least to our bodies) these cues change, it causes major confusion.

Like anytime you lose sleep, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Night owls are more bothered by the time changes than morning people. For some, it can take up to three weeks to recover from the sleep schedule changes, according to a 2009 study in the journal Sleep Medicine. For others, it may only take a day to adjust to this new schedule.

That's Not All
All of these impacts have economic costs too. An index from Chmura Economics & Analytics, released in 2013, suggests that the cost could be up to $434 million in the U.S. alone. That's an estimated total of all of the health effects and lost productivity mentioned above. Other calculations suggest this cost could be up to $2 billion—just from the 10 minutes twice a year that it takes for every person in the U.S. to change their clocks. (If you calculate 10 minutes per household instead of per person this "opportunity cost" is only $1 billion.)"

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