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Precious Sleep

I have a problem with an annual event that is around the corner. It isn’t tax day or any of the holidays; it’s the day when daylight savings begins. And it’s going to happen this Sunday, March 10. I call it Daylight Wasting Time.

I don’t like losing an hour of sleep, but even worse, I am irritated by the loss of morning light. On Saturday, March 9th, the sun will rise in my part of the world at 6:24 AM. The next day, my groggy body will greet the sun at 7:22 AM.

You may point out that I’ll get the extra hour of light on the other end, that instead of a 6:03 PM, the sun will set at 7:04.  To me, that is nonsense. My body doesn’t reset its clock with the digital world. My body won’t be hungry just because my analog timekeeper tells me it’s dinnertime.

My sleep cycle won’t have had enough darkness to prepare for my usual bedtime. I usually find myself reading an hour later. The next morning I wake up to an annoying alarm, necessary because my body’s circadian rhythms are still intact. Missing another hour of sleep, I’ll blunder through the day. It will take me a few weeks to catch up.

Perhaps you think I am protesting too much. However, I have the weight of scientific research on my side. Scientists have rigorously studied sleep, and anything that affects quantity or quality of sleep is a health threat.  In Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker provides a litany of what insufficient sleep can do. These include:

  • Loss of concentration, memory and increased risk of dementia
  • Increased risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, colds, flu and other diseases
  • Weight gain and all the weight-related health problems, such as diabetes
  • Premature death

The Bottom Line:  Sufficient sleep is the bedrock of health. Without it, life can be shorter and miserable.

To learn more about the importance of sleep, I recommend an article in the Washington Post by Carolyn Y. Johnson titled, “Go to bed! Brain researchers warn that lack of sleep is a public health crisis.” (January 24, 2019)

As for daylight savings time, I’ve been preparing for the last two weeks by going to bed earlier. Also, I am not laying awake at night complaining about something I can’t control. I’ll get that hour back in the fall. Perhaps I should move to Arizona and stop complaining altogether.

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