Wakey, wakey!

SkyIf you’re like me, the clocks may have sprung forward over the weekend, but there was no spring in my step Monday morning and dragging myself out of bed was an almost insurmountable challenge. We are not alone.

Combined with the loss of an hour of sleep, the sudden change to the increasingly longer light patterns we’ve slowly become accustomed to since the winter equinox really throws our body clock for a loop. Not only are we tired and possibly a little more irritable than normal for the first few days after the change, studies show that there is a 7-10% increase of heart attacks in the general population for three days following the shift. As well, because of this fatigue and less daylight in the morning, traffic fatalities also increase 5-7%. The “fall back” process in the autumn produces similar hazards as pedestrians are as much as three times more likely to be fatally stuck after the loss of the hour.

The idea of “saving” daylight originated in Germany during World War I to save energy. Although adopted by many counties, there are probably an equal number of locations where this tradition is not observed. Saving energy is a noble endeavour, however a US study in 2010 showed that by taking into account the health risks and loss of an economic hour (businesses operating through the night or on a 24-hour schedule had 1 less billable/production hour) actually cost the US $432 million dollars. With approximately 45% of people against and 19% unsure of its value, is Daylight Savings (DST) here to stay? I for one hope not!

But until Ontario decides to ditch the DST, here are some tips how to be a perkier and better-rested you on March 14, 2016 (the Monday after DST in 2016):

  • Train for it. Go to bed progressively earlier a few nights before DST and get up progressively earlier a few days before to train your body for the upcoming shift.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast first thing. Food also tells your body it is the start of the day.
  • Take melatonin before you go to sleep the night of the change. Melatonin is a natural hormone which regulates the body-clock.
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