Time to give our circadian rhythms a break

Monday, November 4, 2013

If you're feeling a little out of sorts today, it might be the letdown from your celebration of Nebraska's Immaculate Reception.2 on Saturday, or it might be just because your body is adjusting to the changing clock.

You may also notice that kids are grumpy, waking up in the middle of the night, because of the new schedule, and is your dog asking to go outside at odd times of day?

Have a headache?

You can blame the time change for that as well, according to Dr. Stewart Tepper, who treats headache pain at Cleveland Clinic. He said switching times, or even changing time zones, can trigger cluster headaches, which start a couple of days after the time change, and can last anywhere from six weeks to three months and can be serious enough to be debilitating.

He said the part of the brain that controls rhythms through the day and year -- the circadian rhythms and circannual rhythms in the hypothalamus -- is the same part that triggers cluster headaches.

Allison Schrager made a proposal in "The Atlantic" that we not only do away with headache-causing time changes, but pare the number of time zones in the continental United States to two.

Touted in the 1970s as a way to save energy, daylight saving time actually saves little or no energy, she said, and actually undermines economic efficiency by disrupting sleep cycles, lowering productivity and increasing the number of heart attacks.

Being out of sync with European time costs the airline industry $147 million a year in travel disruptions, she said.

But Schraeger proposes taking things one step farther -- putting America on two time zones only, Eastern and Western, with the dividing line where the Mountain Time line is now. That would mean little or no impact on our area.

Schraeger says it wouldn't be that much of a change -- the United States basically operates on two time zones any way.

She notices, during frequent commutes between New York and Austin, Texas, that people did things at basically the same time, anyway -- to work at 8 a.m. in Austin and 9 a.m. in New York; out to dinner at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, and even the television schedule.

She argues that the number of time zones has already been radically reduced, a process that started with the railroad, which mandated fewer standard times to make the trains run on time.

Fewer and fewer of us work on schedules dictated by the sun, and even those who do are more easily accommodated by shifting work hours than any sweeping mandates.

Almost the entire state of Alaska, which would naturally be in four time zones, now operates in one, as does China, which would normally be in five.

It's time to give our brains a rest, and do away with Daylight Saving Time. While we're at it, let's drop a couple of time zones as well.

What do you think about time zones and Daylight Saving Time?
 End Daylight Saving Time and create two time zones.
 End Daylight Saving Time only.
 Create Eastern and Western time zones only.
 Keep things the way they are now.

Your comments about the poll question: (Optional)

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