The Centennial of Daylight Saving

As a citizen of the 21st century, you probably feel like Daylight Saving has been around forever, since, for you, it has. In truth, the practice has only been in place in the United States since 1918. That’s right – not even 100 years! Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t created for farmers; they lobbied against it. Modern DST was proposed in 1895 by a guy in New Zealand who liked to collect bugs. It wasn’t until 1916 and WWI that major industrialized nations decided to implement daylight saving in an effort to conserve energy. Though the world has seen many repeals and there is a movement to abandon the practice in the United States, the likelihood that policy will be enacted to do away with daylight saving is slim.

Hooray for an Extra Hour!

So, for the foreseeable future, we’re stuck with this silly clock-adjusting. The bad news is, it’s about to get dark SUPER early. The good news is, the change about to take place on November 5th is the easy part of daylight saving – the one where you get an extra hour of sleep. Still, any change is hard on our systems. That’s because our circadian rhythms are synched up with the sun, and the one-hour alteration demands that our biological systems recalibrate. For many of us, that’s not a big deal. But for those affected, falling back can feel just like jet lag.

Practice Extra-Good Hygiene

Fortunately, just like with jet lag, the adverse effects of daylight saving are preventable. Good hygiene is the answer, but we’re not talking about fitting in an extra shower. Daylight saving is a great time to brush up on the basics of sleep hygiene and re-commit to that smart-phone bedroom ban. If you need extra coffee during the days after you turn the clocks back, be sure to drink it early in the day. And don’t use alcohol to put you to sleep; that’s not actually a thing. Since your system will already be struggling with the time change, it’s best not to let your sleep get messed up in easily avoidable ways.

Hope for the Future

If recent research is any indication, we can expect scientists to figure out how to eliminate the circadian consequences of daylight saving relatively soon. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and buy a wake light. Seriously, how do you still not have a light-up alarm clock that mimics the sunrise? These ingenious devices wake you up gently and reward you for waking up a few minutes early. If the light rouses you enough to get vertical, you can avoid the ghastly buzzer! Regardless, set a reminder for the evening of November 4th and don’t hesitate to take a nap if falling back gets you down.

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