Beware the Daylight Saving! Sleep, rhythms and grades
My wife has long held a theory that life gets more difficult for students when the clock changes every November. The early sunset makes it dark and dreary, and the change itself messes up our daily rhythms and internal clocks. Well, it’s true. Check this out:
For some, the end of Daylight Saving Time means an extra hour of sleep. But for others it can mean a headache. Doctors say the time change can cause cluster headaches that can last as long as eight weeks. The portion of the brain that triggers these headaches also controls your body’s rhythms. Slight changes can throw off the rhythm, which can also happen when you switch time zones.
Yeah. Researchers have now also affirmed that join pain can predict the weather (How Your Knees Can Predict the Weather: Granny was right: Scientists find link between achy joints and the forecast) and that intuition is rational and often works (Moms know best: Doctors say ‘mother’s intuition’ is real).
Human beings, it seems, weren’t invented along with Edison’s light bulb or Al Gore’s internet. We’ve been experiencing and adapting to time, weather, seasons for, well, for a long time.
With the end of Daylight Saving (here for the Book of Knowledge, I mean, Wikipedia, entry; oh, and it’s “saving” not “savings”), we’re moving the clock back to the “normal” time that is supposedly lined up with the path of the sun. Actually, time itself isn’t made up by humans, but we need some way to measure it, thus sundials and clocks. High noon literally means when the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky, so that means that high noon is different across time zones. High noon here in Washington, DC, isn’t the same as high noon in, say, West Virginia, even though both are in the same time zone, both showing 12:00 noon at the same time.
Time zones were created by the railroad industry in order to coordinate train schedules across places with different actual times. So these, essentially, arbitrary “zones” were created so that passengers and shippers could know that the 5:00 am train from New York that arrives in Chicago at 7:00 pm New York actually took 14 hours, even though it arrived at Chicago at 6:00 Chicago time. Confusing enough? The point is that it’s all made up.
We could leave the clocks alone, but in order to interact with different places, we kinda need to know what time it is there. I think we should all just be on the same time, but that would mean that, if morning in New York is 5am, then morning in London would be a midnight, which would mean we’d have to change midnight in London to Noon. People would still get up when it’s light, or go partying when it’s dark, whether that’s 4:00, 16:00 or whatever. Instead, every local time follows the sun, with morning being morning by and midnight at midnight on the clock.
The reason for it is that humans need sleep. And when we mess with sleep, well, bad things happen.
Sleep is a fundamental part of those “cycles” of life that we experience on this planet. We go around the sun every time the earth spins 365 and a quarter times. And during every one of those spins of the earth we experience a certain amount of sunlight. Since the beginning, human beings have followed these natural, physical patterns of the earth and sun. A fundamental interaction to it is sleep.
Then along comes Thomas Edison and his light bulb. Now we can get more than a flickering flame to light our streets and homes, and we can remake the natural clock of the earth. A cost of this defiance of time, is sleep, and it can really mess with people. Please check out this site from the NIH: Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep, which explains the importance of sleep, its rhythms and cycles and some of the harm in messing with it.
Sleep and Grades
I write all this to remind our students that sleep matters, and sleep can make or break your grades. Adults are always telling kids to “get some sleep,” and kids are always rebelling against that advice and staying up late. So many of the students in our program tells us about sleep issues: have too much home work to do, can’t get off the computer, and then falling asleep over homework or in class.
Sorry, kids, the science is working against you on this one. Electronics mess up your sleep cycles, the “need to text” or Tweet misplaces your priorities and cuts into your productivity. There are a thousand websites with advice on this, but please know you are impacted by your choices. Just this week, here’s another warning about how electronics can destroy a child’s sleep
Parents should ban electronic media during mealtimes and after bedtime as part of a comprehensive “family media use plan,” according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The influential new guidelines are being spurred by a growing recognition of kids’ nearly round-the-clock media consumption, which includes everything from television to texting and social media. “Excessive media use is associated with obesity, poor school performance, aggression and lack of sleep,” said Marjorie Hogan, co-author of the new policy and a pediatrician.
It may seem like parental nannying, but are you sure it’s not hurting your grades? Yes, sleep does matter. Please be aware of your habits and needs, and please do what you can to make them match.
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