by Kimberly Allen, RN
Every spring and fall most of the US, Canada and Europe move their clock either ahead or backward by one hour depending on the season. Daylight saving time or DST was first introduced back in WWI and was widely used throughout the 1950’s and ’60’s. However, during the energy crisis of the 1970’s it’s use expanded and continues to be used throughout Europe and North America. Then the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by four weeks. Now DST begins the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.
Believe it or not DST is not a federal law. The “law” only sets the starting and ending dates for DST and then it is up to the individual states, counties, and territories as to whether or not they want to change. One national survey indicates that only 37% of Americans feel that DST is worth the trouble. However, some experts feel that the solution to the problem is to stay on DST year round. One report done in 2004 states that by staying on DST year round would provide sufficient extra daylight to avoid hundreds of fatal crashes. In fact it specifically stated that it would save 195 drivers and passengers as well as 171 pedestrians.
So what can you do to reset your internal clock and adapt to the time change more quickly? One of the most important things you can do is expose yourself to as much light as possible while you are awake. Light suppresses the melatonin that our brain produces to induce sleep. On the other hand it’s also important to not expose yourself to bright light when it’s dark outside. In other words if you get up to use the bathroom at night don’t turn on the light it could interfere with your ability to get back to sleep. It’s best to install a night light for safety, one that has enough light so you can see but not enough to suppress melatonin production. It is also important to establish good sleep habits like avoiding caffeine and/or alcohol in the hours before going to bed. And regardless of the time change it’s important to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.