Valerie Rice | March 11, 2021
The collective complaining about Daylight Savings Time has been an annual tradition for as long as I can remember. But why is this? Shouldn’t we not all be used to this yearly change in schedule and therefore remain quiet? Hell no! This outdated system was proposed by Benjamin Franklin long before the modern era in an attempt to make the work day easier and more productive. Much like other antiquated systems, however, we as a society have clung to it far past its expiration date. I want to point out a few of the reasons why we really should stop messing with time.
The human body has an internal clock that regulates our sleep/wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. It is tuned into the amount of natural light in our environments. When we start changing time, we change the amount of light we are exposed to thus deregulating our rhythm. This means that our bodies are no longer sure when to sleep and wake up, when to eat and digest, or how to expend energy. This is a dangerous game. One of the first steps to proper functioning as a human is regulating our clocks, and it is often recommended to avoid artificial lights and screens in order to do so, yet we persist in messing it up as a group. In fact, one of the best ways to reset our bodies is to go camping for a week, far away from electricity, and allow ourselves to return to nature. No matter how we do it, the adjustment of our circadian rhythm takes about a week.
For people with underlying mental illness, daylight savings time is dangerous. The change triggers an increase in seasonal depression, a form of depression that is linked to sunlight and a lack of vitamin D. It also causes those with mood disorders such as bipolar depression to decompensate, meaning that even if they are on their medication, they become unstable. It also leads to an increase in suicidal ideation and, according to a Danish study, a 10% jump in completed suicides.
Well, this is the part I always assume people should know but then they never do. The messing up of our sleep schedules leads to higher rates of car accidents and workplace injuries. It also has detrimental effects on health such as increased heart attacks and miscarriages for those undergoing IVF.Why? Because stress. Stress is (often) bad. We know this. And thanks to this unnaturally occurring stress we tamper with mental health which leads to hospitalization, job loss, further economic stress, and even loss of life. So why do we do it?
If it is so bad, why do we keep it up? Tradition most likely. Humans love to cling to unhealthy and deadly habits, especially when they think it will help “the economy” or it is established by someone we revere. And who doesn’t love a colonial icon, amiright? Logic very rarely comes into play when we set rules for our society and change is super hard to come by when we want to improve the lives of the average person. So if you want change, you need a petition and a vote. Even after all that you will still need a hope and a prayer that nobody vetoes it if it passes. Our best bet is to try and trick our bodies in advance by going to bed early a week before the time changes, and limit screen time so we rely less on artificial light. Until next time, Be Well!