The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 12, 2013

Springing forward a great leap backward

ENID, Okla. — This is my least favorite week of the year.

It has nothing to do with the Ides of March, which occur Friday, or the coming of St. Patrick’s Day next Sunday.

Both are perfectly lovely occasions, though the Ides didn’t turn out to be Julius Caesar’s best day, while St. Patrick’s Day didn’t prove beneficial to Ireland’s snake population.

I refer instead to the government’s annual assault on our sleeping habits.

We call it Daylight Saving Time, and use as a reminder of its implementation the innocuous sounding phrase “spring forward,” when in truth we are springing forward only into one thing: sleep deprivation.

The benefits of springing forward, which we did early last Sunday morning, are many.

For one, it stays lighter every evening, giving us more time to enjoy outdoor activities after work or school.

But the drawbacks are legion, not least of which is the loss of 3,600 precious seconds of slumber.

Chmura Economics and Analytics conducted a study of the real cost of moving to Daylight Saving Time.

Their report, titled “Estimating the Economic Loss of Daylight Saving Time for U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas,” concluded the cost of pushing the clock ahead one hour was $433.9 million, or $1.65 for every American man, woman and child.

That figure stems from the fact springing forward leads to an increase in heart attacks, workplace injuries in the mining and construction industry and what the report calls “increased cyberloafing that reduces productivity for people who typically work in offices.”

According to a 2008 Finnish study, the switch to Daylight Saving Time can impact everyone’s sleep patterns, but especially that of night owls.

All I know is it is a scientific fact springing forward increases everyone’s GQ, or grumpiness quotient. At least, it does mine.

Another study, this one done by the Better Sleep Council, found 74 percent of workers over the age of 30 said not getting enough sleep as the result of springing forward affects their work.

Nine percent say the loss of that hour of sleep makes them more likely to fall asleep in a meeting, or when driving, or when driving to a meeting, or when sitting in a meeting, daydreaming about driving. Four percent say they have gotten into traffic accidents due to a lack of sleep.

Thirty percent of the people surveyed say springing forward affects their mood. Four percent say it makes them “much less pleasant” to be around, while 5 percent said “the Incredible Hulk has nothing on them.”

The Hulk, for the non-comic book-savvy, was a regular guy until he became grumpy, when he turned into a big green wrecking machine.

 Gentlemen, perhaps you have particularly noticed the affects of springing forward this week, given the fact that women wake up far grumpier than men, according to yet another study, this one conducted by Duke University.

The Duke study found females need far more sleep than men and suffer more mentally and physically if they are deprived of it, such as in the immediate aftermath of springing forward.

And while you may think your wife being deprived of an hour of shut-eye might be dangerous to your health, guys, it isn’t good for her, either. Women who lose sleep are at a higher risk for heart disease, depression and psychological problems.

While your wife or significant other may be a pain after losing sleep to the switch to DST, she may be in pain. A loss of sleep helps increase inflammation markers, and inflammation leads to pain.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit my bride runs contrary to the Duke study. She wakes up cheerful every morning, no matter what.

Spring forward, fall back, a full night’s sleep or fitful slumber, no matter, she wakes up smiling.

Conversely, I am grumpy every morning, no matter if I’ve been deprived of 60 sweet minutes of slumber or not.

Admittedly, I am better than I was. I no longer awaken spouting invectives that threaten to peel the paint off the walls. I no longer snarl at my bride simply for smiling.

However, I’m still not a fan of Daylight Saving Time.

I feel a kinship with those in Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

And then there’s Kazakhstan, which did away with DST in 2005 after a poll found 51.6 percent of Kazakhs were adversely affected by the time change.

I say pick standard time or daylight time and stick to it year-round. In the meantime, I have a big red circle around a date on my calendar.

No, it’s not my birthday, or my brides, or our anniversary, or even the first day of college football season.

It’s Nov. 3, the day we Fall Back, when we regain our lost hour of sleep and the day I stop being grumpy in the morning.

OK, so it’s the day we regain our lost hour of sleep, at any rate.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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