Turn the Clock Forward Tonight!


A week from tomorrow is “Selection Sunday,” the day in which the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) announces the participating teams in the annual national college basketball tournament, and the ways in which those teams will match up and “seed.”  Much less exciting, however, is what will happen tomorrow, which is that this year’s Daylight Saving Time (DST) will begin.  In most parts of the United States, clocks will be moved forward in time by one hour, starting from 2 a.m. overnight.  Some portions of the U.S. remain on “standard” time all year ’round:  Hawaii, some parts of Arizona, and U.S. territories of Guam, the American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.  The idea is that advancing clocks forward a bit will provide us with more light in the evening and less light in the morning.

What this means is that the vast majority of Americans will feel tonight like we’ve “lost” an hour of time this weekend.  This one-hour shift does not truly represent a loss, of course, because we “gained” an hour in November 2012 (and will gain it again in November of this year).  But it can feel that way.  DST can be potentially disruptive to computers, various forms of equipment, medical devices, and other electronics, but it can also disrupt some people’s sleep, though usually mildly.

Adults are typically able to handle up to one hour’s worth of “shift change” in sleep scheduling per day (a critical concept in the understanding of jet leg, for example).  Everybody’s different, though, and everybody has different thresholds for feeling effects of changes in bed schedules and work schedules.  Making the change Saturday night into Sunday morning further allows for maximal societal flexibility in absorbing this time change in time for the beginning of most people’s typical work or school weeks.

For those who are particularly sensitive to effects of sleep schedule shift changes, my suggestion would be go to bed just a little bit earlier tonight (Saturday) than usual, say 15-30 minutes.  Then tomorrow night (Sunday), go to bed slightly earlier than you did tonight.  This exercise is not very taxing, and should allow you to absorb easily the time change internally in time for work or school come Monday morning.

Many basketball teams are playing their end-of-regular-season games today, so there will undoubtedly be some “bubble” teams (and their fans) that won’t be sleeping all that well tonight if they lose, independent of DST.  Most people, however, will sleep well and will find the shift change pretty easy to handle, though many (like myself) will grumble a little about the subjective sensation of the time “loss.”

Enjoy the weekend nonetheless, everybody!

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