Daylight savings time means sleep bankruptcy

I am not looking forward to the wee hours of this Sunday morning, for when the clocks are advanced an hour it always spells personal setback for me. During “regular” time, I cherish my awakening naturally at 4 AM and spending quiet time reading, meditating, journaling and talking to God.

All that changes when The Mitten messes with the clock. I lose a naturally occurring hour of bliss to the mysterious authorities that control Michigan’s Daylight Savings Time participation. It yanks me straight from “Be still and know that I am God” into “weekday rat race” mode, proclaimed by the going off of an annoying alarm. Annoying doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Speaking of annoying, I can still hear Grandma Smith, who never had to commute anywhere or to punch a time clock, cheerfully announcing, “Spring forward, fall back.” Like a town crier, she mistakenly believing it was her duty to warn everyone they’d better remember to move those clock hands, or else!

Or else what? Just as there are Seventh-Day Adventist churches that celebrate the Sabbath beginning on Friday night because of a different interpretation of the Holy Bible, I wonder if there are pockets of conscientious objectors against Daylight Savings Time or “DST” – people who peacefully refuse to adjust their clocks and continue to function on regular time the entire year. That could get interesting. Somebody please try it and let me know how it goes for you.

Which time is the “real” time? What we observe during the late fall and winter months. The term “Daylight Savings Time” describes the advancing of the time one hour ahead during the summer (actually during the spring, summer and early fall) months so that the evening daylight can be experienced longer, thus allowing more business and activities to be conducted after traditional working hours.

Historically, Daylight Savings Time also reduced the duration incandescent lighting was needed in the evening, which amounted to a small cost savings, but a savings, nonetheless. And who doesn’t like a bargain?!

Even with those tangible benefits, there is a downside to Daylight Savings Time. Even with my non-scientific background, I can offer anecdotal evidence that moving around the time cramps my circadian rhythms. My body’s inability to “change with the times” leaves me feeling exhausted and short-tempered. DST springs sleep-deprivation on a lot of us.

I prefer the DST acronym, as I believe the practice of moving the clock backward and forward is a Destructively Stressful Tactic (DST). I came up with that nearly 25 years ago, when I was living in southern most Michigan, working as a waitress at an Indiana state park just over the state line. Doing business in Indiana was tough during the time of year Michigan was on a different time. There’s nothing quite as odd as leaving for work at 6:15 AM, only to arrive there at 15 minutes later, at 5:30 AM.

Technically, I guess I can claim to have participated in time travel. It’s maybe the only benefit I have derived from Daylight Savings Time. Animals have it considerably better. Our cats and dogs simply adjust their napping schedules. Boo hoo! On some dairy farms, the milkers have learned to gradually introduce the time change in 10-15 minute intervals over a period of days to help the cows’ bodies adjust to the change. But we humans are just supposed to suck it up. Overnight.

At first I thought I was just imagining my negative sensations regarding Daylight Savings Time. But then I read the November 2015 issue of “Sleep Review” magazine, where editor Sree Roy wrote that Daylight Savings Time negatively affects human feelings and behavior. Her conclusion? “The time change risks outweigh any perceived rewards.”

Roy cites a study that links DST “spring forward” to heart attacks. In the same editorial, Roy shares that “fall back” studies indicate an increase in traffic accidents. I almost keeled over reading that information. Another potential casualty. Time changes also increase the incidence of sleep deprivation among our already sleep-deprived adolescents.

DST should be eliminated in Michigan, if not for my peace of mind, for our collective health. Whoever’s in charge of the system must be asleep on the job.

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