This weekend we follow the twice annual ritual of adjusting our clocks to account for the changes in daylight hours for those of us in northern climes like Omaha. Even though this is the more favorable of the two changes–”falling back” gives us an extra hour, very appreciated by parents and children this Halloween–there was still a fair bit of grumbling by people over the weekend and especially on Monday morning because of the disruption to their schedule.

Although not necessary, there are certainly some conveniences that come from adjusting our clocks, and the practice probably does not deserve the level of ire it receives from people who are feeling sleepy today.

The Rationale for Daylight Savings Time

If you think about it, our schedule in postindustrial America is kind of arbitrary. Unlike our pre-technological ancestors that would rise about the time the sun came up (though they went to bed long after the sun set), we get up at a set time every day, go to work, come home, maybe watch some TV and get to bed at about the same time most days. We do things according to the clock and not according to the sun, which can have a negative impact. It’s hard to go to sleep when it’s light outside, and even harder to get up when it’s still dark.

A clock with autumn leaves
Daylight Savings Time tries to adjust our arbitrary clock to the natural variation of sunrise and sunsets. For example, with a sunrise at nearly 8am Central Daylight Time last week, middle schoolers in Omaha Public Schools had to be at school and in their desks long before the sun came up. And anyone with a reasonable commute was also likely up long before the sun came up. This week, with a sunrise before 7am, most of us will be waking up after the sunrise, making it more likely that we can wake up naturally.

In contrast, if we were on Standard Time all year long, the sun wouldn’t set until well after 10pm in summer, and many of us would not have time to set our natural sleep mechanisms in motion after dark to get to sleep at a reasonable time.

What’s the Real Reason You’re Tired?

While it’s true that many people do feel a significant dislocation of their sleep routine related to Daylight Savings Time, many other people just use it as a convenient excuse. In fact, many of the same people who complain about feeling sleepy this week probably felt sleepy last Monday, too.

Your sleep problems could be related to poor sleep hygiene that makes it hard to get to sleep and get good rest. It could be related to changing your schedule between workdays and weekends. Honestly, most of us shift our bedtimes and rising times by more than an hour each weekend, so it seems a little specious to blame Daylight Savings Time for sleepiness on Monday. This changing sleep over the weekend was considered a significant factor in a deadly train derailment.

And many people feel sleepy every day of the week. No matter what time they get to bed or what time they wake up, they never seem to get enough sleep. If you’re one of these people, the odds are good that you have sleep apnea.

Instead of blaming sleepiness on Daylight Savings Time, people should keep a sleep journal to realistically assess why you’re sleepy.

And if you suspect sleep apnea may be the cause, we can help. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.