If the coffee hasn’t helped this morning and you’re feeling a little more irritable than on a typical Monday, move over. You can blame it on the start of daylight saving time (DST) in the United States.
This is the day most Americans are struggling with the effects of “jamming our biological clocks into reverse,” said Erik Herzog, a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis.
At a time when we’re all trying to deliver excellent brand experiences, it’s good to recognize potential obstacles … to take a step back, give ourselves a pass, and acknowledge that science may not be on our side today.
The Pain of DST
Yesterday, at 2 a.m. local time, most of the US collectively “sprung forward” to DST. And it’s likely taking its toll on your enthusiasm and productivity as we kick off the workweek today.
DST is the practice of setting the clocks ahead an hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall to make better use of natural daylight. It’s observed everywhere in the US with the exception of Hawaii and most of Arizona.
DST makes you wake up in darkness for a handful of extra days in spring and fall, said web cartographer Andy Woodruff. “The daylight is regained in the evening, of course, but I’ll grant that waking up before the sun is miserable,” he conceded.
3 Days of Disruption
Herzog, an expert on sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythms, goes farther. All we are doing is arbitrarily changing the thing on the wall or on our wrists. The sun is still rising and setting as exactly as it did before the change — which is precisely the reason farmers hate the practice (contrary to popular misconception).
We’re asking our bodies to adjust to a new daily schedule with no clues from the environment, he explained.
And that sets the stage for about three days of disruption.
“Daylight saving time does not seem to help conserve energy, one of its original goals. Instead, the evidence is that the one hour advance of our wall clocks each spring is associated with statistically higher rates of traffic accidents over the following three days and heart attacks over the following two days,” Herzog said.
4 Ways to Feel Better
So what can you do? Here are some suggestions from Herzog and other experts to feel rested every week of the year.
- Get some sun. This helps your body naturally deal with the time change.
- Establish a nighttime routine. Don’t exercise or eat one hour before bedtime, and follow a winding-down pre-sleep schedule.
- Turn off electronics. The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm.
- Consider a wake-up light. Sunrise simulation alarm clocks use light to gradually wake you, even when it’s still dark outside.
The Origins of DST
For the record, Benjamin Franklin did not invent DST.
“He merely suggested Parisians change their sleep schedules to save money on candles and lamp oil,” the Franklin Institute notes.
So who first proposed DST? We can blame New Zealand entomologist, George Hudson, who wanted more daylight in the evenings. He presented the idea in 1895.
Other fun facts:
- Englishman William Willett led the first campaign to implement daylight saving time with the 1907 publication of a brochure called “The Waste of Daylight”
- Germany was the first country to adopt DST, in 1916, to save energy during World War I.
I could go on. But I’m tired and need some sun. Too bad it’s raining.