Daylight Savings Time 2013 (DST) ends this Sunday, November 2 as we change to Standard Time (ST). If you remember the tag line – “Spring Forward, Fall Back”, you know which way to set your clock before you go to sleep, but do you still have to think about whether this is the good witch or the bad witch?
The conventional wisdom says that the fall change is the good witch, because you gain an hour. If you normally get 8 hours of sleep from 12:00 am to 8:00 am, on this special Sunday you can:
1) go to sleep at 1:00 am (DST) and get up at 8:00 am (ST) and get 8 hours sleep
2) go to sleep at 12:00 am (DST) and get up at 7:00 am (ST) and get 8 hours sleep
3) go to sleep at 12:00 am (DST) and get up at 8:00 am (ST) and get 9 hours sleep
It’s a great set of choices and there are a number of greeting cards to choose from to share the joy. It’s tempting to stop the post here on a high note.
The bad news according to the Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, PHD in this WebMD article is
1) our internal clock gets out of sync with the day-night cycle
2) it’s similar to the jet lag we would feel when flying from east to west
3) we will fall asleep more easily, but may have a more difficult time waking up
The local effects are really not so bad, and it’s much better than the spring change when we move on to Daylight Savings Time and lose an hour. However, Michael Decker, Ph.D., an associate professor at Georgia State University, and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says falling back also signifies a shift into winter and the changing light patterns that come with it. Winter has the triple whammy of being colder, getting dark so early, and the feeling that the days are shorter. This can lead to feeling blue and a even experiencing a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So the good news is that you can gain an hour of sleep, but the bad news is that sudden change is not so good for us, and this is a signpost to the start of the shorter days of winter and the negative effects that can bring.