Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Health Care and Gaining Time

Everyone needs change in life, so does the clock! The Daylight Savings time change schedule for fall 2009 in North America happened on November 1st, 2009, at 2:00am, according to NowPublic.com, and you put your clocks back one hour. The practice of Daylight Savings time can be controversial as some benefit from the time change but many also do not. The term ‘DST’ (Daylight Saving Time), according to About-Knowledge.com, was first introduced by George Vernon Hudson (New Zealand) in 1895. In order to save more daylight during the summer, George Vernon Hudson an entomologist from New Zealand came up with the unique idea in the year 1895 for the first time and today a number of other nations also follow the Daylight Saving Time theory. For this very purpose, the clocks and all kind of time devices are adjusted forward exactly an hour as a rule (at the start of spring particularly) in the United States as well as in countless other countries, in order to let the afternoons have more daylight in comparison to morning hours.

The United States and Canada always observe second Sunday of March and first Sunday of November to begin and end, respectively the Daylight Saving Time tradition. Following is a permanent guideline to further explain the aforesaid:
Beginning of Daylight Saving Time:
--2 a.m. on the Second Sunday of March for most of the United States.
Reverting of Daylight Saving Time:
--2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November for the United States.(Different time zones follow different time schedules for the same activity twice each year).

According to Geography.About.com, Every spring we move our clocks one hour ahead and "lose" an hour during the night and each fall we move our clocks back one hour and "gain" an extra hour. But Daylight Saving Time (and not Daylight Savings Time with an "s") wasn't just created to confuse our schedules. The phrase "Spring forward, fall back" helps people remember how Daylight Saving Time affects their clocks. At 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks forward one hour ahead of standard time ("spring forward"). We "fall back" at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November by setting our clock back one hour and thus returning to standard time. The change to Daylight Saving Time allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours. During the eight month period of Daylight Saving Time, the names of time in each of the time zones in the U.S. change as well. Eastern Standard Time (EST) becomes Eastern Daylight Time, Central Standard Time (CST) becomes Central Daylight Time (CDT), Mountain Standard Time (MST) becomes Mountain Daylight Tome (MDT), Pacific Standard Time becomes Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), and so forth.

Daylight Saving Time, according to About.com, was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time is four weeks longer since 2007, due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time and based on a variety of factors, it is possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time. Arizona (except some Indian Reservations), Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have chosen not to observe Daylight Saving Time. This choice does make sense for the areas closer to the equator because the days are more consistent in length throughout the year.

Daylight saving time decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours, so that more daylight is available during the evening, according to NationalGeographic.com. However, not everyone benefits from the daylight saving time change. Farmers and others who rise before dawn may have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak. And some experts suggest that the extended hours implemented in 2007 to save energy won't actually do the trick. That's because people may use more electricity during the darker mornings, canceling out any savings from not using as much power at night. Daylight saving time, though, can bring many benefits. Research has shown that more available daylight does decrease the number of traffic accidents, traffic fatalities, and incidences of crime. Congress noted other advantages while updating legislation in 1986, including "more daylight outdoor playtime for the children and youth of our Nation, greater utilization of parks and recreation areas, expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hours and through extension of domestic office hours to periods of greater overlap with the European Economic Community." More details can be found at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/10/091026-daylight-savings-time-2009-fall-back.html and at InfoPlease.com, http://www.infoplease.com/spot/daylight1.html.

According to the University of Oklahoma, twice a year, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but do a few other semi-annual tasks that will improve safety in your home. Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks:
1.) Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Replace any smoke alarms older than ten years. Replace any CO alarms older than five years.
Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets). Once you've created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
2.) A COLD winter is coming! Make a "winter car-emergency kit" now and put your vehicle! (Don't know what to include? Do an Internet search for "car emergency kit" and you'll find lots of ideas!) It's a good idea to carry a car-emergency kit in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall. (Having a separate duffle/gear bag clearly marked "Cold Gear" specifically for your cold weather emergency gear makes it easy to add or take out of the car, seasonally.) Like a Boy Scout, "Be Prepared!" In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least, miserable to deal with, unless you're well prepared.
3.) Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials. Discard (properly, please) any which are outdated, no longer used, or in poor condition. Move any which are within reach of kids or pets.
4.) Check and discard expired medications - those dates really DO have meaning - some very common over-the-counter medications can cause serious problems due to change through aging.

According to FoxNews.com, turning the clock back may mean more sleep, but it may mean trouble for your body. There are ways to keep the time change from disrupting your body clock. Stay away from caffeine and other stimulants, especially during the days before and after the time shift, and avoid napping for a few days because it can disrupt your sleeping at night.
- Sleep through that extra hour if you can instead of trying to get things done.
- Don't drive if you feel sleepy because of the time shift. Consider taking public transportation for a few days to give your body time to adjust.
- Relax, avoid stress and remember to take your regular medications over the weekend of the time change.
For those who have trouble sleeping overall, here are additional tips:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times, even on weekends. No sleeping in.
- Avoid food and drinks with caffeine after lunch, including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.
- Take 15 to 30 minutes to wind down before heading off to bed.
- Don't work or study right before bedtime, in order to allow yourself to relax.
- Don't exercise strenuously right before bedtime.
- Keep your room dark, quiet and cool; ear plugs and eye masks can help.
- Keep in mind that time in front of screens — the computer or television varieties — before bedtime can disrupt sleep.

Despite the controversy, one thing is certain—DST will be around for a long time, according to SparkPeople.com. So here are some time-tested tips for dealing with the time change:
--Start early. The time change is usually scheduled for the wee hours of Sunday morning, in order to reduce the disruption of the workweek. To give yourself more time to adjust before the workweek begins, reset one of your clocks at the start of the weekend, such as Friday night or Saturday morning. Try to eat meals, sleep, and wake according to that clock. When Monday comes, you’ll be on your way to feeling adjusted. However, if you have activities and events during the weekend, make sure you don’t get confused about the correct time!
--Exercise. Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps our bodies adjust. Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors, and early in the day. A brisk morning walk is perfect. Avoid exercising too late in the evening though, as this could interfere with the quality of your sleep.
--Nap wisely. Try to resist the urge to take long naps late in the day. If you get tired, take a short, energizing walk around the block instead. If you must nap, keep it earlier in the day and limit your snooze time to no more than 20 minutes.
--Don’t imbibe. Alcohol interferes with normal sleep cycles, so don't rely on a nightcap to fall asleep.
--Digest. After the time changes, you may be hungry for meals earlier or later than before. Be sure to give yourself ample time to digest your dinner before heading off to bed. A heavy meal in your stomach will interfere with the quality of your sleep, too.
--Lighten up. The right combination of light and dark can help your body's circadian rhythm readjust so you can fall asleep on your new schedule and sleep more soundly. In the morning, open the shades and brighten the lights. Try to spend time outside during the day, if possible. Dim the lights in the evening, so that your body understands that it’s time to wind down. Hopefully these suggestions will help you adjust more easily to the biannual time changes. If you’ve tried all of these suggestions, and you’re still having trouble adjusting to the time change after a few weeks, call your health care provider for more assistance.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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