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What is the Hardest Thing to Get Used to With the Time Change?

To be fair, not every country changes its clocks back an hour in the fall and forwards an hour in the spring, but this is done in many, including the United States. Some people are bothered by the practice to varying degrees and other people don’t mind, at all. The idea is that the days are getting shorter in the fall and longer in the spring. The time change, which occurred in the US yesterday, is supposed to take advantage of the shortening and lengthening days, specifically in regard to the daylight hours, but it can be difficult to get used to for many people.

In reality, it doesn’t change anything in regard to the number of daylight hours. It merely means that after the time change in the fall, sunrise is later in the morning, according to the clock. Likewise, sunset is also later, which is supposed to be the point as it becomes dark an hour later. This is illusionary, but society largely runs on official times.

Personally, it makes it seem like the days are even shorter than they were just before the change. In October, I was used to getting up between 4 am and 5 am daily. When the time change occurs in November, I still get up at the same time according to the circadian rhythm of my body, but when I look at the clock, it is 3 am to 4 am. I’ll admit that I’m a morning person, but the change means that in the fall and winter, at least for a few weeks after the change and until I get used to it, I often don’t get enough sleep. I feel perpetually sleepy.

In part, that is because of the daylight hours, but only in part. A body normally produces melatonin, which is what makes us drowsy, according to our circadian rhythm or “internal clock” and the trigger for this is the daylight and darkness we experience. Changing our physical timepieces doesn’t change our circadian rhythm. So, for me, to get a full night of sleep, I must go to bed an hour (by the clock) earlier than I’m used to going to bed. Only gradually does my body adjust and by then, the hours of daylight are even shorter. In the winter, in my location, it begins to get dark at 4 pm.

This might not be as noticeable for people in areas closer to the equator, but here in the north, it is quite noticeable. For other people, the change might mostly affect their work schedule or eating pattern, but for me, it disrupts my sleeping pattern and the amount of sleep I get each night.

  • What is the hardest thing to get used to during the time change for you?

    • How much sleep I get
    • When I start feeling tired
    • When I eat
    • When I work
    • How Late/Early I get up
    • When I go to bed
    • Other
    • There is no time change where I live
    • It makes no difference to me

What do you think?

10 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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    • I know the feeling. I’ve often found myself struggling with getting used to the change. Really, the biggest thing that has helped me is that I’ve worked every shift, so I’ve had to rapidly adapt to various schedules. The funny thing is that a lot of people think that the time changes are mostly to benefit farmers, but I’ve never met a farmer who liked the time changes.

  1. The clocks went back last weekend in the UK. Changing all the clocks and watches in the house is the thing that causes most bother, plus the fact that pet animals work according to when they feel hungry, with no consideration for the sleep patterns of their owners!

  2. Night and day does not really affect me. I am though more of a night owl than a day person. That comes from the fact that I worked for 21 years on full time evening shift and then 12 hour night shift. Even though I have not done these types of shifts since 1996 I am still stuck on that time frame… so how is the weather in Montana now? Any more snow?

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