Start now to get ready for loss of an hour's sleep

Thursday, March 3, 2016

We've mounted the anti-daylight-saving-time soapbox many times in the past, and while there's little chance we'll be relieved of the semi-annual misery anytime soon, we have more than a week to get our biological clocks ready for a forced reset.

Ask most people what daylight saving time is for, and they'll say it benefits farmers. Farmers don't know what the rest of us are talking about, however. Their work is regulated by sunshine and weather, and if they need to buy something on one of those long summer afternoons, they may find the store closed because of daylight saving time.

Like many "innovations," daylight saving time was spawned by war, adopted by Germany in 1916 to save coal for the war effort, and copied by Britain that same year.

Today, all of Europe uses daylight saving time, except for Belarus, Iceland, Georgia and Armenia.

Russia doesn't use it, but Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel do. Mongolia just reintroduced it.

Most of North American has DST, except for Arizona and Hawaii, but most of South America doesn't, except for southern Brazil.

China won't leap forward, but south east Australia and New Zealand will.

The clocks didn't always change by an hour; at times people were forced to change their clocks by increments of 20, 30 and 40 minutes and even two hours.

Since we're no longer fighting the Kaiser, and many studies show the time change hasn't produced promised savings, and can even cause harm, 100 years should be enough to prove the experiment hasn't worked.

In the mean time, we've got a week to get ready to "spring forward" on March 13.

Start getting your family ready by going to be 15 minutes early, and "bank" as much rest as you can.

Get some exercise to help you sleep better. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise three times a week or more, but not too close to bedtime.

The same goes for alcohol, caffeine and tobacco four to six hours before bedtime.

Eat light, simple foods several hours before bedtime, and avoid too much liquid before bed so you don't have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Create a sleep-friendly environment with sleep shades, earplugs, a white-noise machine or all three; get a comfortable mattress and set a temperature of 60 to 75 degrees in your sleeping room.

If you can't sleep and can't get your mind to shut down, get up. Don't look at the clock, go to another room and do something relaxing to help you get drowsy, like reading a book, drinking warm milk or writing about whatever's on your mind until you are ready to get back in bed.

Perhaps Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz should adopt a plank to end daylight saving time in their platform. With key primaries coming while voters are still drowsy from lack of sleep, it might be just the issue to give them an edge over Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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