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Saturday, March 7, 2009

3/7/09 Spring Ahead

In my area of the U.S., tonight is the night we all lose an hour of sleep. Daylight Savings Time means we all turn our clocks ahead an hour tonight or ‘Spring Ahead’. I officially have Spring Fever. Our seeds are up (under the grow lights in the basement) and we’re having an unseasonably warm weekend.

I thank my DD daughter for that. She’s spent the last week in Florida on her college, Sr. year Spring Break, where it was unseasonably cool. She sent me a beautiful photo from her phone the other day…the sun was setting and there wasn’t a soul on the beach…her text “I’m alone on the beach, and I’m freezing!” She’s driving back today and bringing what I call warm (she calls freezing…well I guess it would be if I was trying to wear a bikini) 69° weather with her...thanks Honey.

Apparently, Daylight Savings Time has a mixed effect on health.
In societies with fixed work schedules it provides more afternoon sunlight for outdoor exercise. It alters sunlight exposure; whether this is beneficial depends on one's location and daily schedule, as sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin, but overexposure can lead to skin cancer. Sunlight strongly influences seasonal affective disorder. DST may help in depression by causing individuals to rise earlier, but some argue the reverse. The Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation Fighting Blindness, chaired by blind sports magnate Gordon Gund, successfully lobbied in 1985 and 2005 for U.S. DST extensions, but DST can hurt night blindness sufferers.

Clock shifts disrupt sleep and reduce its efficiency. Effects on seasonal adaptation of the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks. A 2008 study found that although male suicide rates rise in the weeks after the spring transition, the relationship weakened greatly after adjusting for season. A 2008 Swedish study found that heart attacks were 5% more common the first three weekdays after the spring transition, and 5% less common the first weekday after the autumn transition. The government of Kazakhstan cited health complications due to clock shifts as a reason for abolishing DST in 2005.

So try your best to get enough sleep this week…if you’re feeling blue, it’s normal (please don’t even think about suicide)…and for those of you with heart issues, be extra careful this week. The up-side is that we all have a built-in excuse for being grouchy for at least a week or more. Make the most of it! “I’m sorry I’m so grouchy, but it’s not my fault! It’s this d*#@n Daylight Savings Time!”

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