There Goes Daylight Savings Time: What Can You Do About It?

The shift from Daylight Savings Time (DST) happens every year, and in 2011 it’s scheduled for Sunday November 6. You put the hands of your clock back an hour as you remind yourself to “spring forward and fall back,” and then ask yourself all over again, “Does that mean it becomes earlier or later and do I gain or lose an hour of sleep?”

You also ask yourself, “Why do we have to do this every year and confuse ourselves? And besides I like Daylight Savings Time.” Well, the chief reason is that the days are getting shorter and the sun is rising later and that poses a risk to our children who are walking to school in the dark. If we move the clock back, that essentially means we’re getting an extra hour of light in the morning and our children are more likely to get to school safely and less likely to be knocked over by someone in an SUV talking on a cell phone.

Daylight

We get an extra hour of sleep at this time shift and ought to be more refreshed. So why is it that some of us (many of us) fall back along with the clock? The answer is that we pay for that extra hour of morning light with an extra hour of darkness in the late afternoon. I remember clearly the very first time I experienced that shift. I was a psychiatric resident in New York City, freshly arrived from South Africa where we never had Daylight Savings Time probably because there was so much daylight that nobody had to save any of it. After work that day I walked out of the hospital at the usual time, expecting to see the sun and instead was greeted by a dark sky over Manhattan and a cold breeze blowing off the Hudson.

Later I learned that I – and millions of other people – are very sensitive to a lack of light and that losing an hour of light all of a sudden is quite a shock to the system. We know now that we suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or its less severe form – the Winter Blues. The solution, quite simply, is to replace the missing sunlight with bright artificial light.

But why should you miss the extra light in the evening when you are getting it in the morning? Well, many of us are indoors during those morning hours and are not benefiting from the extra sunlight. On the other hand, if you are out and about in the morning, you might feel even better after the Daylight Savings Time shift because many people are most responsive to bright light in the morning hours. But whether you are a morning or an evening person, for daylight savings time 2011, I encourage you to replace the light whenever you miss it, and you will no longer need to dread the time shift. And we can all take comfort in knowing that our children are safer on the way to school.

Wishing you Light and Transcendence,

Norman

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2 Comments

  1. Norman, what exactly is “artificial light.”

    - by Catalina in November, 2011
  2. Hi Catlina,

    We can deliberately use artificial light to achieve some practical effect. With less natural sunlight in the environment we can apply artificial light to mimic sunlight, and enhance our mood and energy level.

    - by Norman in November, 2011