This weekend millions of Americans will adjust their clocks one hour ahead in honor of DST; Daylight Savings Time.
How and when did Daylight Savings Time begin? You can thank Benjamin Franklin for inventing the concept, he created it to conserve energy in the summer months. By moving clocks forward, we could take advantage of the extra evening daylight rather than turning our lights on. Franklin’s bright idea was shared with other influential leaders worldwide but didn’t begin until a century later. Germany was the first to establish DST in May 1916 as a way to conserve fuel during World War I. The rest of Europe came onboard shortly after and in 1918, the US adopted DST. After the war ended, President Woodrow Wilson gave in to the requests of the farmers, in our mostly rural country, to abolish DST to give them back their morning light to work the land.
At the start of WWII, on February 9, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt re-established DST year round, calling it “War time”. When “War Time” ended it was a free for all, states and towns were given the choice of whether or not to observe DST. As you can imagine it was mayhem, and this mayhem continued until May of 1966 when Congress enacted the Uniform Time Act. This law meant that any state observing DST, which was entirely by choice, had to follow uniform protocol throughout the state in which DST would begin on the first Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday of October. Then, in 2007, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 went into effect, expanding the length of daylight saving time to the present timing.
So, that is the history of DST, but how does it affect us physically?
Circadian Rhythms control our internal body clocks, including our sleep and waking cycles. The common theory is that our Circadian Rhythm correlates to the sun’s cycle.
The transition to DST each spring disrupts this natural rhythm. Disruptions to our Circadian Rhythm cause insomnia, loss of energy, loss of appetite, and hormone imbalances. Some people experience an increase in headaches and depression after a time change.
What can you do to help the disruption of the sleep-wake cycle?
1. Try to adjust your sleep pattern this weekend – get up one half to a whole hour earlier on Saturday. This will hopefully make you tired earlier Saturday night.
2. Go to bed an hour earlier on Saturday night get up one half hour later on Sunday.
3. Get outside! Start immediately getting the morning sun, soak up as much as Mother Nature provides.
According to one study, losing an hour of sleep when the clocks spring forward may increase the short-term risk of suffering a heart attack. The study analyzed data from hospitals in Michigan, and found a 25 percent rise in heart attacks the Monday following DST. Dr. Amneet Sandhu, a cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver, said in a 2014 news release that Monday mornings are already the most common time for heart attacks, perhaps because of “a combination of stress of factors, including the stress of starting a new work week and inherent changes in our sleep-wake cycle, and with DST, all of this is compounded by one less hour of sleep.”
How can you keep clear of these tragic statistical risks?
1. Spend time Sunday practicing relaxation techniques, meditative breathing, or gentle yoga.
2. Monday morning, if possible start your day a little later than normal to avoid the rush hour traffic.
3. Hum, chant or sing in the shower; humming, singing, and chanting stimulates the Vagus Nerve. In the heart, the vagus nerve controls heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure. Vagus activation will lower the risk of heart disease and other major illnesses.
4. Harness the mood-boosting effects of exercise. You do not have to push hard – just get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Regular exercise releases “feel good” endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that help reduce the perception of pain and they also trigger a positive feelings in the body.
These tips are simple and effective and will help you manage your time and honor your body.