Despite rumors that time changes are a thing of the past, the clocks will be set an hour forward on Sunday, and you may feel like you’ve lost some sleep — because you will have. But take comfort in the fact that it may be the last time.

You aren’t alone if it takes you a while to adjust to a new schedule or you just feel off for a while after the time switch. Switching between times wears on our bodies as they struggle to adjust to a new schedule and maintain the correct wake and sleep hormones.

Time has been linked to our bodies in what’s called our “circadian rhythm,” also known as our “internal clock.”

It’s not the time shift itself that affects the circadian rhythm, but the light during the day that helps our bodies know when to calm down and sleep or wake up. Our bodies don’t care whether the clock says 5 p.m. or 5 a.m., as long as the appropriate amount of light can be found.

Daylight saving time is coming

Anna from the popular animated movie “Frozen” may have got it right when she said, “The sky’s awake, so I’m awake.”

So it makes sense that when daylight saving time makes us wake up in the dark, it disrupts our natural sleep cycle. But, “when we receive more light in the morning and darkness in the evening, our bodies and nature are better aligned, making it easier to wake up for our daily activities and easier to fall asleep at night,” the American Academy of Sleep Medicine said.

That’s the should-be natural rhythm of nature and just when we sink into that, we lose or gain an hour, starting the whole process over again.

With every time change, our natural sleep cycles are jolted once again. It’s like a never-ending battle our body is forced to fight, making the adjustment every six months.

A permanent schedule would be ideal for our bodies, but then the question arises, should standard time or daylight saving time be the permanent standard across the United States?

How does light affect us?

In early timekeeping, a sundial was used to tell the time of day based on where the sun was in the sky and the amount of light it was giving off — there was more sunlight in the middle of the day compared to less light in the beginning and the end of the day.

Time was first defined by how much sunlight illuminated the world naturally, so wouldn’t it make sense that our bodies — as a natural phenomenon — be linked to that too?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine called the “daily cycle of natural light and darkness” the “most powerful timing cue to synchronize our body’s internal clock.”

So it follows that when the light outside and the clock don’t seem to match, our body gets confused.

“We process light neurologically as a tool for our circadian cycles,” said Jenney Howe, a child and adolescent psychologist and owner of Jenney Howe Consulting, in an interview with the Deseret News. “When we lose access to that, our natural rhythms of motivation and reward and reinforcement and sleep are impaired.”

Having a schedule is something that our bodies like because they can anticipate our activity throughout the day and release hormones on a schedule that helps us feel more awake and productive during working hours. At night, they can release hormones that make us feel sleepy and ready to wind down at night when the sun goes down.

How to curb daylight saving time fatigue

This is part of why conditions like seasonal affective disorder are more prominent in the seasons of the year with the least amount of light.

With the invention of technology like televisions, computers, smartphones and even light bulbs, the bright light emitted from these can actually mess up our circadian rhythms because our body can’t tell the difference between the light emitted by a device and the light emitted by the sun.

This is why Apple’s “night shift” mode and other similar features dim the screen light and shift to more of a sepia color, reducing the amount of light from the screen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting some natural light during the day and reducing artificial light intake at night to help your circadian rhythm sync, giving you a better night’s sleep and improving your health.

What to know about seasonal depression

Why is sleep important?

We need sleep. The CDC even calls it “critical to good health” because it’s vital in allowing our bodies to repair themselves. Without it, we’re more at risk for physical ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and asthma, not to mention mental illnesses such as depression.

Sleep can make a big difference and has opened a debate about whether switching permanently to daylight saving time is the best idea or if standard time is more beneficial.

The president of the American Academy of Sleep, Jennifer Martin, argues that switching between daylight saving time and standard time disrupts healthy sleep by messing with the body’s natural circadian rhythms.

“Daylight saving time disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms and impacts sleep,” said Martin in a published article by the organization.

Martin argues that the permanent change should be standard time because it matches the body’s natural internal clock, in addition to more safety precautions for children walking to school in the morning.

“Standard time provides a better opportunity to get the right duration of high-quality, restful sleep on a regular basis, which improves our cognition, mood, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being,” said Martin.

“Standard time provides a better opportunity to get the right duration of high-quality, restful sleep on a regular basis, which improves our cognition, mood, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being,” said Martin.

When sleep is impacted negatively, it can not only lead to physical ailments but mental health issues, as seen in one cause-of-death mortality study.

The day after switching to daylight saving time, suicide rates were found to rise by 6% by Eric Osborne-Christenson, an assistant professor of economics and associate chair of the Economics Department at Pace University, as published in the journal Health Economics.

While it’s still up for debate on which time will be used, research suggests that a change needs to be made.

Will daylight saving time end in 2023?

The Sunshine Protection Act is moving to change to a permanent time on the federal level but is still stalled in the House of Representatives, as reported by the Deseret News previously.

More than half of the states — including Utah — have pushed for a permanent change, per the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But for now, the time change remains intact for another year and our clocks will “spring forward” on Sunday.

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