To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub…
I feel tired, resentfully tired. Like I’ve been robbed. It’s not just an hour. It’s my life!
What Difference Could an Hour Make?
By Michael J. Breus, PhD
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
The daylight-saving time change will force most of us to spring forward and advance our clocks one hour. This effectively moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, giving us those long summer nights. But waking up Monday morning may not be so easy, having lost an hour of precious sleep and perhaps driving to work in the dark with an extra jolt of java. How time changes actually affect you depends on your own personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle.
Moving our clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue — light — for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. In doing so, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. How well we adapt to this depends on several things.
In general, “losing” an hour in the spring is more difficult to adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall. It is similar to airplane travel; traveling east we lose time. An “earlier” bedtime may cause difficulty falling asleep and increased wakefulness during the early part of the night. Going west, we fall asleep easily but may have a difficult time waking.
How long will it take you to adapt to time changes? Though a bit simplistic, a rule of thumb is that it takes about one day to adjust for each hour of time change. There is significant individual variation, however.
How will you feel during this transition? If you are getting seven to eight hours of sound sleep and go to bed a little early the night before, you may wake up feeling refreshed. If you are sleep-deprived already, getting by on six hours, you’re probably in a bit of trouble, especially if you consume alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime. In this situation, you may well experience the decrements of performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
GIVE ME BACK MY HOUR!
Watching you sleep, I see defenselessness, frozen worry pocketed momentarily, far from the muscles in your face that folds into the linen encased pillow. Your eyes roam the darkness inside you. When you awaken, you’ll reach for me, close me into your warmth, your body heat rising as you battle weariness in slumber’s imaginarium fraught with curiosity and care.
Easy. Sleep devours some while teases others, a little here and there, never on command. Always an uneasy relationship with sleep, I could write a book on the cruelty and charity of insomnia. After all, some mysteries solve under the light of the moon where the sun smashes them to smithereens, overexposed and heated.
“Mommy, what happens when you sleep?” The same kind of question like “How does your eye work?” that left me stumbling when my daughter, then 6, asked me. I did not know what the question meant or how to answer something so ordinary, so taken for granted and so available in the age of the internet. But how to explain it so she would understand was the mystifying assault on my usual ready to inform mode.
What happens to anyone in sleep–that great world divider between hope and despair? Death. Death to the waking world, the one we make sense of daily, and birth to the enigmatic world of weirdness and worry. Dream-works piqued wonder to others way before Freud. Prophecies preistesses told by dreams as hypnotic spells. And sleep, so much more than eye rolls, rapid eye movement and rest, reveals time’s illusion. Though the clock handles spin unceasingly while we play dead for so many hours, we have no recollection of its passage and do not experience it as we do awake time. The numbers do not lie, only our consciousness creates bent experiential time.
We travel in sleep, we fly, we problem solve and hit all kinds of brain receptors ranging from the pleasurable to the terrifying. As if the horrors of daily grinds, near missed vital truths and fatal accidents, deep abiding love attained and lost, rational solutions and indecipherable chaos, cannot affirm living human sufficiently. We need another look, another more creative, spatial-emotive glance at life’s curious condition to assure ourselves that it is better to live than die: God’s inserted micro chip in each of us. Otherwise, who would be there to entertain IT so thoroughly? Not all the others swaddled in space, far more advanced yet far less amusing than we.