There's a New Day Ahead for Daylight Saving Time
On Sunday at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time ends. We move the clock back one hour to return to Standard Time, giving us a 60-minute bonus, so we really shouldn't complain. But even a one-hour shift can be discombobulating for many people, from international air travelers to cranky toddlers.
Spring Forward, Fall Back may be the only notion some of us can keep straight when it comes to the twice-annual ritual of changing the clocks. And now Congress has tinkered with WHEN to make the change.
Thanks to passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time will begin one month earlier in 2007 and will continue for an extra week. It's part of a phased move designed to conserve electricity and save an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil a year.
Many proponents wanted to extend Daylight Saving Time well into November, starting next year. A compromise was forged after Congress heard testimony from farmers concerned about their livestock, saying it would disrupt the cows' milking routines. Can cows tell time? Airlines executives worry about getting out of sync with the rest of the world.
* This year, Daylight Saving Time began on April 2 and ends at 2 a.m. Oct. 29
* In 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 11 and ends Nov. 4
* In 2008, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 9 and ends on Nov. 2
* In 2009, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8 and ends on Nov. 1
Dr. Timothy Monk, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh med school, has done studies for NASA on time changes and jet lag. He finds the physical impact of the switch back to Standard Time can linger for at least a week.
"In the autumn change, which we are experiencing now, it is like the whole popluation has moved one time zone to the west and actually that's quite congenial," Monk said.
Falling back means we get an extra hour in bed, have fewer traffic accidents, and improve our mood. But our circadian rhythms are thrown off. Monk has two suggestions:
* Listen to your body. Go to sleep an hour earlier on Sunday night. Chances are you may even wake before your alarms sounds Monday morning.
* On Monday, prepare yourself a high-protein breakfast. Thanks to another body clock trick, those extra calories you consume early in the day won't stay with you, Monk says.
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