Humans may not have the power to travel through time, but we certainly know how to manipulate time in order to make the most efficient use of it. When Daylight Saving Time (DST) was first introduced in 1908 in Ontario, Canada, it added one hour to our standard time to make better use of daylight hours. Ancient civilizations have been modifying their work schedules to fit with available sunlight for centuries, but this is the first known instance of shifting the clock.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with DST. We tend to be all for the longer days and the ability to catch a few moments of sunshine after work starting in the spring, but the complicated schedule doesn’t make sense to many. And that’s not even touching on the frustration that comes when DST ends in the fall. This November 6, we fall back an hour and turn our clocks back to standard time. After making the most of the daylight, seeing the sunset around 5 p.m. can be a hard pill to swallow.
Daylight Saving Time and Your Sleep
But does all of this time manipulation help or hinder your sleep cycle? Because our circadian rhythms rely so heavily on light cues, the shifting of sunrise and sunset can certainly take a toll. But it is typically in the spring, when we “lose” an hour, that lost sleep takes a toll. It is a good idea to begin shifting your sleep schedule a few days before the beginning or end of DST. Natural light helps kick start your waking process, so if it is pitch black outside your window when you wake, you may consider investing in a light-up alarm clock.
At its heart, DST is all about energy conservation. Well, at least that is what sold legislators on the original idea and the 2006 push to extend DST one month. In reality, studies have shown that people don’t significantly save energy and they may even use more when gasoline use is factored in. More daylight means more time for activities for many people, so be sure to stick with your bedtime routines to maintain consistency throughout the year.