Roy Exum: Your Circadian Rhythms

Friday, March 9, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
A lot of my friends don’t know much about their Circadian Rhythms but they will be reminded once again on Monday morning when the malady will occur this weekend. Yes, early Sunday morning we will once again “spring forward” into Daylight Saving Time. And, brother, my rhythms just hate it.
And it’s not just me – do you realize there will not be one baby born nor chicken hatched between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. this Sunday morning?
It is a well-established fact that all of us have a “body clock” that we “reset” for about once a day. This cycle, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, “can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. Biological clocks that run fast or slow can result in disrupted or abnormal circadian rhythms. Irregular rhythms have been linked to various chronic health conditions.”
For years we’ve been blaming losing that hour of sleep during the time change but, no, it’s more because our rhythms take a jolt. There’s a great habit in changing every battery in the house when the times changes -- whether they need it or not. Unfortunate as it might seem at first, it takes more than a Duracell to reset your rhythms.
Hark! Because I have deeper knowledge than a tree full of owls, today’s tip is how to quickly fix your Circadian Rhythms and totally escape the Monday blahs. The different time zones in the United States prove our “body clocks” are “entrainable” – and best of all – It’s really easy if you’ll just use your Zeitgeber.
That’s the external stimulus used to entrain your rhythm: the Zeitgeber, or "time giver." All you have to do is expose as much of your body to energy on Saturday afternoon to stimulate your Zeitgeber. Energy comes in the form of light and heat. There is no such thing as darkness – scientifically “dark” is actually “lack of light.” Same for “cold” – in science cold does not exist – but “lack of heat” does.
So on Sunday you need to stay active instead of sleepy. Go for a hike, wash your windows, and go to Costco and just look. The more energy you can stir up the harder your Zeitgeber will get. And the owls in my tree say it’s a “hoot” doing it. Presto – your rhythms will be restored by Monday.
I’m thinking when the state of Florida Legislature just decided to go on Daylight Saving Time year round, their real reason was the circadian rhythms. Actually I’m betting 75 percent of the legislature rightfully believes it just makes sense because not a one of them could spell circadian rhythms. The fact is changing the clocks is foolishness, outdated, and unnecessary.
For the record, it took the Florida bill less than a minute to pass but if Governor Rick Scott approves it, the Florida action will still have to go to Congress for what is expected to be a favorable decision. As of now Hawaii and most of Arizona are the only states that have asked to be exempt from the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
In the fall, on the first Sunday in November, you gain an hour which isn’t as rough on your rhythms. But what about when Laura Cirioli had twins in a North Carolina hospital one Sunday in November? She gave birth to Peter at 1:32 a.m. and, 34 minutes later, to Allison. However, because Daylight Saving Time reverted to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m., Allison was born at 1:06 a.m. Explain that to the Birth Certificate Bureau.
There was a move in the Tennessee Legislature last month that would have stopped Tennessee from taking part in daylight savings time. Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg, asked the entire state become Eastern Standard Time year round.
But in typical Tennessee fashion, Rep. Buddy Hulsey said no way! To squelch Daylight Saving Time would limit the hours he could ride his motorcycle in the summer. So there. Because Rep. Mary Littleton did not attend the subcommittee meeting, the bill died after a 2-2 stalemate. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) was one of the co-sponsors of the bill and it’s an easy gamble Tennessee and a growing number of other states will adapt a “same time” bill next session, eliminating the clock change forever.
For the record, the latest Department of Energy study claims Daylight Saving Time reduces our gross national energy use by just 0.03 percent. On the other hand, the New England Journal of Medicine has convincing proof that disrupted circadian rhythms, insufficient sleep or a combination of both are a major public health problem. Get this: the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger have been linked to this very thing.
Why? When your rhythms get jolted and you lose an hour of sleep, the combination can cause “microsleeps,” or a momentary lapse of attention that can end in disaster. A Canadian study, published 20 years ago, cited 24,318 sleep-related deaths and 2,474,430 disabling accidents at a cost of $56 billion in 1998 alone.
Then again, there are many incidents of collateral damage. In 1997 about 1,000 students at Ohio University went on a rampage, throwing whiskey bottles at the police and chanting, “Freedom! Freedom, when Daylight Saving Time closed their “watering holes” one hour early.
Better yet, the next year the crowd had swollen to 2,000 in anticipation of the time change and the police used rubber bullets, the rioters laughing with glee when their buddies would get thumped. The police shift commander then told the cops to switch to their billy clubs, which quickly sent the obeying darlings straight to bed. There has been no more rioting, especially since bars are now allowed to stay open until 4 a.m.
You see what a little common sense can do in any situation?
Regardless, my rhythms and I need blessed relief.

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