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Daylight Saving Time 2014: Ward off grogginess utilizing sunlight, says expert

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Daylight Saving Time 2014 is here, it rolls in during the wee hours of Sunday morning March 9, 2014. This is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time for the year and it ends on Sunday Nov. 2, 2014.

The good, the bad and the ugly of Daylight Saving Time is hashed out in debates twice each year just before the clocks change. As ABC News suggests on March 7, it is a “bittersweet switch” that signals spring but delivers a blow to your sleep.”

The 23-hour Sunday offers plenty of sleepy folks on Monday morning, as getting up an hour earlier than your internal sleep clock is used to takes a toll for a few days by way of grogginess. Changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time takes a toll on productiveness and mood. The clock change has also taken the blame for car accidents as well as injuries in the workplace.

Daylight Saving Time has even shouldered the blame for stock market dips. Dr. Alfred Lewy, the director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland calls the Daylight Saving Time “an interesting paradox.”

Folks traveling through times zones from one side of the nation to another get used to the time change very easily, but the Daylight Saving Time change presents with some difficulty for people, claims Lewy.

He said this is because it is about the new light-dark cycle, which is “perversely working against the body clock. We’re getting less sunlight in the morning and more in the evening.”

The sleep-wake cycle, which is generated by a cluster of neurons inside the brain, needs to reset every day. The signal to reset that cycle is sunlight, which is taken in through the eyes and corrects the cycle.

With Daylight Saving Time the sleep-wake cycle and the light-dark cycle don’t match up, making people feel “out-of-sync.” The body will adjust over time, but until it does it causes many to feel sluggish, grumpy and like they need a nap.

Lewy said you can help your body adjust by getting some early morning sunlight directly by going outside. Taking in sunlight through a window won’t work. He suggests getting up and out after dawn for a little while and soak in the light.

He also said that even though you may have the urge to linger in the late sunlight on Sunday and Monday, staying out of it will help with getting your cycles back on track.

Another suggestion by this expert is to temporarily take a low-dose (less than 0.3 milligrams) of melatonin on Friday through Sunday late in the afternoon. This can help with getting the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles back in place. He warns that melatonin can render you sleepy and interfere with other drugs.

There's more to the time change than meets the eye, who would have ever thought that just an hour difference can put your sleep-wake cycle out of whack? Apparently it does and the natural sunlight plays a big part in putting the body's clock back in sync!

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