Daylight Saving Time (DST), which begins on Sunday, March 8, is the practice of advancing clocks during summer (and spring and fall) months so that evening daylight lasts longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. In effect, DST causes a lost hour of sleep in the spring and an extra hour of sleep in the fall. DST disrupts our internal clock and temporarily contributes to productivity wanes at work, significant pedestrian and traffic accidents increase and serious health impacts.
Dr. Andrew Gall, assistant professor of psychology, is a behavioral neuroscientist who focuses his research on understanding the neural mechanisms and functions of sleep and circadian rhythms. He is able to address questions on how DST affects the mind and body’s ability to cope with lost sleep and disruption in the circadian rhythm.
“Brain regions that receive direct information about light, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, must re-entrain to the adjusted time of day following a time change,” Gall says. “It takes our bodies longer to adjust to the spring time change as compared to the fall time change, similar to when we travel east, due to the phase advance in our biological clock.
“One way to help your bodies adjust more quickly is to wake up about 15 minutes earlier each day starting several days before the time change, and go to bed earlier and earlier each night. Doing so will start to adjust your internal clock before the time changes in the early hours of Sunday morning.”