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March 8, 2013

When time changes, moods, rhythms follow

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday

JASPER — Hoosiers are likely to be tired and a little cranky for a while after shifting to daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, when time will by law essentially skip an hour and shift to 3 a.m., making a 23-hour day. Residents will need to move their clocks ahead an hour either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

The time change, which takes place nationwide except in Hawaii and Arizona, means many people will lose an hour of sleep, which can impact their natural sleeping patterns.

“We have an internal clock called a circadian rhythm,” said June Erny, a registered sleep technician and respiratory therapist at Sleep Management Institute in Jasper. “It tells us to go to bed at this time and get up at this time. When we modify that, it can affect how well we sleep.”

Even shifting a single hour can throw off a person’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up easily.

“It’s all a matter of throwing the body clock out,” Erny said. “By changing time by an hour, they will have a temporary period of time where it’s harder to get to sleep or harder to get up until they adjust.”

How long it may take to adjust will vary from person to person, but most people will feel some level of tiredness for several days, she said.

“It’s going to take several days, and if a person has other sleep issues, it just compounds that,” Erny said. “There’s a lot more that goes into sleeping at night than laying your head down.”

Erny noted that the human body regulates hormones during the stage of the sleep cycle when dreams occur, called REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, which references the eyes moving beneath the eyelids that takes place during this stage. The time change could affect that regulation process.

“Not getting enough sleep affects almost everything we do,” she said. “It certainly impacts concentration and mood. People might be a little more irritable and have more work errors for a few days.”

And while many people working first shift are waking up during daylight hours now, that will change come Sunday when those people will be waking up while it’s still dark outside.

“We’ll be getting up before the sun comes up and that’s not a normal process for our bodies,” Erny said, adding that humans are instinctively inclined to wake up with the sunrise and go to bed with the sunset. “That goes all the way back to when we were created.”

Erny said there’s not much a person can do to prepare for the time change, but laying off the caffeine earlier in the day and going to bed earlier in the time leading up to daylight saving might help.

Daylight saving time will end Nov. 3 when time will shift backward an hour from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. to standard time, essentially repeating an hour and making a 25-hour day. Erny said that transition also can impact a person’s sleep cycles, but seems to be easier to adjust to.

“I think moving the time forward is generally harder on people as a whole,” she said.

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