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Daylight Savings Time: more light, more outdoor fun, and more crankiness

You wouldn’t think that one hour would make that much difference, but it does.

I promised myself that this year I’d be prepared for Daylight Savings Time. I’d go to bed a little earlier every day for the week before. I’d get up a little earlier each day.

But… guess what didn’t happen?

Not only did I not do that, but I also set my alarm clock, and kitchen clocks, and watch ahead on Friday night instead of Saturday. What was I thinking?

When I woke up Saturday morning I was so annoyed that my computer and iPhone  clocks hadn’t changed. They should know better! I had always relied on them!

And then it “dawned” on me.

Daylight Savings Time never happens on Friday night.

Now that I was up, going back to sleep was out of the question. I was already into my morning routine. I had to go to work in the store and I just had to bid a fond farewell to that lost hour.

And so I changed my clocks back for the day. And then forward that night. And I didn’t go to bed any earlier like I had promised myself.

So, here it is, Sunday morning, 6:00 am Daylight Savings Time.

And after all the confusion and disappointment I had setting my clocks incorrectly, I’m writing my blog on the effects of Daylight Savings Time on all of us.

We don’t usually think about the impact Daylight Savings Time has on us.

We all love it when there is more light in our days. We just feel, well, lighter.

Yet when Daylight Savings Time comes we expect to feel lighter right away, but that’s not what happens.

The switch to Daylight Savings Time suddenly and dramatically decreases the morning light and increases the evening light.

This wreaks temporary havoc on our body rhythms.
It’s like we’re jet lagged but we haven’t gone anywhere.

When the alarm rings, or sings, on the first Monday morning after the time change, our bodies are screaming “No, its too early… let me get back to sleep!!”

But if you have to go to work, or take kids to school or preschool, you just have to get up.

Even if you’ve been up throughout the night with a baby or toddler, your body still feels the difference.

Statistically, in the first few days after Daylight Savings Time there is an increase in traffic accidents, workplace and probably in-home accidents, heart attacks, “cyberloafing” (hanging out on the internet at work- and probably at home as well) and according to one Australian study, suicides.

There is an increase in fatigue and forgetfulness.

There is a decrease in memory, concentration and focus.

You, and everyone around you, is tired.

Everyone’s sleep patterns have been disrupted and that impacts the quality of our sleep that we do get. Our bodies are more restless so we don’t sleep as soundly. That makes us more tired.

Everyone is a little out of whack. And everyone is a little whacky.

Especially children.

Psychologists disagree on how long it takes us to adjust to the change. But in my experience in observing children over many years,the switch to Daylight Savings Time can cause two to three weeks of disruption for children.

Children are tired and often inexplicably cranky. Many little ones get colds or are otherwise unwell. They are more easily frustrated and “lose it” more.

And as parents we’re not feeling that great either. We’re less patient, less energetic, and crankier ourselves.

Not exactly a recipe for a relaxed household!

Is there anything you can do about it?

Well, you can try to plan for it like I did – gradually shifting bedtimes and wake times. And you may even be successful at it. It does actually help.

The best thing I suggest you do is to be aware of what is happening.

When you are thinking “What is going on here?”, remember, its Daylight Savings Time and try to be more patient with yourself, your partner, and your kids.

It’s suggested that you make a point of eating meals and snacks at the right time, even if your body isn’t that hungry. That gives your brain some cues about the time.

And if you and your kids are tired and craving sweets, go for fruit and other nourishing food. Good nutrition helps everything feel better. (Dark chocolate is considered a health food. So a few bites can perk you up! Just remember it has caffeine in it if you’re thinking about giving it to the kids.)

Keep everyone well hydrated with water. Being dehydrated compounds fatigue and crankiness.

Being outdoors in the natural light allows your body to adjust seamlessly with the time change.. If you don’t have a schedule and need to get out the door at a specific time, early morning walks are helpful, as is afternoon time outdoors.

Probably the most helpful thing is to remember that before you know it we will all be adjusted to the time change, happily enjoying the growing light and having lots of time to go outside and play.

So remember, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, more light and more outdoor fun makes everyone feel good!


PS: Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate yourself and all the women in your life. It’s also a day to think about how much still needs to be done throughout the world to bring justice and equality to women and girls. This year’s theme is “Make it Happen”, and we can all do that in our own way. Happy Women’s Day!

Judy Banfield

I’m Judy Banfield and I’m here to help you feel better about yourself as a person and more confident and secure as a parent.

In my 30+ years of working with babies, young children and parents, I have learned that valuing and treasuring and deeply knowing yourself gives you the foundation to more confidently and joyfully, love, treasure, teach and guide your children.

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