One of the first harbingers of spring is putting the clocks forward an hour in the spring to save usable daylight, usually the last Sunday in March, which this year is the 28th. We lose an hour’s sleep, which for some is hard to come to terms with, due to our circadian rhythm being disturbed.
Well, what is circadian rhythm? If you didn’t already know, this is your natural body clock, and has several 24-hour cycles, and one of the most well-known is the sleep-wakecycle. Research has revealed that circadian rhythms play an integral role in many aspects of physical and mental health. Hence you might find it difficult to adjust to the lighter mornings, especially those who are already sleep deprived.
Daylight Saving Time is the reason we meddle with our clocks twice a year, the second being in October when we move the time back to where it was in the spring. It was an idea originally proposed way back 1895 by, of all people, an entomologist from New Zealand called George Hudson who wanted more hours of sunshine in the afternoons to go bug hunting!
Obviously the whole world didn’t say yes, we can do that for you George, but it was an idea that eventually took wings, so to speak. But contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t eventually started to help farmers, in fact it gave them one hour less to get their crops to market, and to this day dairy farmers are against it as it upsets the milking schedules for their cows. It is believed that the first real experiments with daylight saving time began during World War I, and in 1916 Germany and Austria implemented a one-hour clock shift as a way of conserving electricity needed for the war effort. The United Kingdom and several other European nations adopted daylight saving shortly thereafter, and the United States followed suit in 1918. Bizarrely, some countries observe it only in some regions, for example some parts of Australia do and some don‘t, and most US States do, but Arizona and Hawaii don’t.
The nearer the equator a country is, the less likely they are to move the hands of their clocks back and forth, as day and night are pretty much in equal parts of 12 hours. Asia and Africa for example are among the continents that don’t.
In addition to interrupting sleep patterns, these shifts in time sometimes complicate timekeeping and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, and medical devices, although computer software usually adjusts clocks automatically.
There are many ways in which you can help your body to accept the change in your sleep-wake cycle, including avoiding naps, taking exercise and avoiding loud noise/music at bed-time, but an excellent way is to use a wake up light clock, which mimics the slow increase of dawn light instead of the harsh noise of an alarm clock to wake you on dark mornings, and some even have options to include natural sounds added.
They can also be set to slowly decrease the light at day’s end to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
So…we all gain an hour of daylight – is this maybe why we get spring fever and get motivated to clean out cupboards or get whirlwind cleaning madness, because we suddenly find an extra hour available? In my case – I don’t think so!