Daylight saving time ends: Let's keep it that way

Daylight saving time ends this weekend and will once again leave kids and parents struggling to reset their internal clock. Is the daylight saving time circadian disruption worth it?

Toby Talbot/AP
Daylight saving ends: Commuters and school children that have been starting their day in the dark will soon have brighter skies once daylight saving time ends this weekend.

Daylight saving time ends early Sunday and some scientists – and parents – say that for the good of tired, grumpy kids and parents everywhere we shouldn't return to it again in the Spring.

Why? Because saving less than four bucks in electricity per American household is a bad trade for messing with our kids’ circadian rhythm , forcing them to tick when they ought to tock. Circadian body clocks are set by light and darkness, scientists describe them as the molecular cycles regulating when humans feel awake and when humans feel sleepy, as well as the hunger and hormone production timetables.

According to a 2007 Current Biology article, research shows that the long-term effects of daylight saving time are drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increasing susceptibility to illness, and being just plain tired and grouchy, Live Science reported.

The report tells us that when daylight saving time ends or begins, most people never adjust to that bi-annual alteration to Mother Nature’s body clock.

"When you change clocks to daylight saving time, you don't change anything related to sun time," explained lead researcher Till Roenneberg of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. "This is one of those human arrogances – that we can do whatever we want as long as we are disciplined. We forget that there is a biological clock that is as old as living organisms, a clock that cannot be fooled. The pure social change of time cannot fool the clock."

I’m with Ronnenberg on this one, having lived on a sailboat for five years with kids and without clocks.

During the years when we rose and rested with the rise and fall of the sun my kids and I were bright and chipper. We rarely got sick and the only grouch we knew lived on Sesame Street and was named Oscar.

However, when we all moved back to land – and to daylight saving time – the alteration in all of us was very obvious because from that day to this we never seem to catch up on our sleep. Obviously, there were other changes in our land lubber lives.

But the week after the time alteration is always the worst for me and apparently others in the time-traveling world, according to a 2012 report in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Playing with the body’s natural rhythm has the immediate result of sleepiness leading to a loss of productivity and an increase in "cyberloafing" in which people actually gravitate to the computer instead of working, says the report.

According to Business Insider, “Night owls are more bothered by the time changes than morning people. For some, it can take up to three weeks to recover from the sleep schedule changes, according to a 2009 study in the journal Sleep Medicine. For others, it may only take a day to adjust to this new schedule.”

In the lead up to the clocks returning to standard time, I have always made their bedtime a little later each night so that when the time does change, they won't be as grumpy.

However, there is little you can do to control the fact that your child may continue to wake early and then get so tired after a week or two of the extra-early start to the day that they start to sleep longer.

It eventually evens out but for parents the transition can be a misery.

Today we also have the influx of technology which has resulted in those added daylight minutes given by daylight saving being taken away by League of Legends, Minecraft, Facebook, and YouTube.

Therefore, this morning as I tried to explain the benefits of daylight saving to my youngest of four sons, Quin age nine, I found myself letting him talk me out of it.

Quin has his own solution, “Science says changing my clock makes me grumpy, slow, and messed up and the law says some states like Hawaii and Arizona don’t have to do it so my vote is to move to Hawaii on Sunday.”

That’s not happening. So, we are staying up late to watch Ruff Ruffman on PBS and hoping for the best.

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