This week we experienced Daylight Savings Time….or, as I learned it’s actually called: Daylight Saving Time. Saving, no “s.”
Does anyone say it that way? I don’t. I guess it makes sense, as we’re saving daylight. But, I’ve always called it daylight savings, with an “s,” like a savings account.
And, what I actually call it is a pain in the rear.
It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? I mean, we’re moving the clocks forward or back 60 minutes, a mere hour, in the spring and fall. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Except it throws my whole body clock off. I’m either wide awake, absolutely exhausted, starving or not hungry at all. Or some combination of all of those.
It usually takes a week for my body to adjust and to make it even worse this year, I just got back from a little vacation where we were already an hour behind our normal time. I returned from our trip just in time to jump ahead another hour. That means my body jumped feels like it jumped two hours.
(Waaah, I know, no one is feeling sorry for me right now. I’ll go play my tiny violin in the corner.)
But, I don’t think I’m alone in disliking Daylight Saving Time (DST). It seems like across the board, most people aren’t big fans. Of course, I like it a whole lot more in the fall when we get an extra hour of sleep. In the fall I feel tired at night and refreshed in the morning. Right now, I feel wide awake at night, which leads me to stay up later. And then I’m exhausted in the mornings, made worse because I stayed up too late.
But, even in the fall, DST throws our body clocks off. I read it take about a week to get adjusted and that seems about right.
It’s especially hard on parents of kids. Little Susie doesn’t understand that it’s bedtime, even though she’s not tired. And she absolutely doesn’t get why you’re waking her up in, what seems like, the middle of the night. And, in the fall, no one appreciates their toddler waking up at 5 am because his body thinks it’s six.
So, if everyone hates it, why do we have DST?
It has to do with maximizing our daylight hours. I used to think it was primarily motivated by farmers, which we have a lot of in the Heartland. And there’s an element of truth to that. But, it also started to conserve energy?
Back in WWI, Germany and Austria turned the clocks forward. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting to save fuel for the war effort. Several European countries followed suit, but abandoned the practice after the war ended and didn’t pick it up again until WWII began.
DST is now used in over 70 countries worldwide and affects over 1 billion people. That’s over 1 billion cranky people. The cranky part is a fact, too.
Studies show that losing one hour of sleep does more than make you feel groggy. It can have an impact in your mood, appetite, motor reflexes and your heart. Basically we’re hangry and a little slow going. True story: research shows a spike in car crashes after DST.
Again, WHY do we have DST??
Nevertheless, we do. And so finding ways to cope is our best solution.
Experts suggest going to bed and getting up fifteen minutes earlier each night for a week before DST. Okay, I don’t know anyone who’s ever done this and, well, it’s too late for this spring, so keep that in mind for next year.
Exposing yourself to light, especially first thing in the morning, can help. Avoiding caffeine after lunch and napping in general will make it easier to fall asleep at the earlier time. And, if you’re feeling sleepy, don’t drive.
Other than that, just hold tight a few more days until your body clock resets and life goes on again. Enjoy that extra hour of daylight in the evenings and choose to have extra grace for the people around you.
Remember, they’re probably just hangry.