Losing Daylight: Fall Time Change is Easier for Owls than Larks

If you're looking for lively, controversial conversation, introduce the topic of Daylight Saving Time. The concept of stealing an hour of daylight by rearranging our days, changing the time on our clocks and attempting to manipulate our natural circadian rythyms seems perfectly acceptable to some people.

"An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later."—Winston Churchill, obviously a fan.

On the flip side, consider this anonymous comment, "Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket," and Harry S. Truman's comment, "Daylight Saving Time—a monstrosity in timekeeping."

The fall time change also raises questions about whether you are an owl or a lark. Owls naturally like to keep late hours and sleep later, so they fare better in fall, when the clock goes back an hour. Larks are up early and like to turn in early, so they are not as daunted by the spring time change, which requires setting the clock an hour ahead.

This question might seem frivolous, but researchers have seriously studied the owl vs lark theory and their findings are intriguing. While we use words like owl and lark, they use scientific descriptions, such as circadian rhythm and chronotype (a human attribute that reflects the time of day when physical functions, such as hormone levels and cognitive abilities are most active).

birdsIf people exhibit extreme owl or lark tendencies, they are said to have circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Scientists have even come up with the term 'hummingbird' to describe people who have equal qualities of both birds. Numerous articles, such as Are You a Lark or an Owl? by Deborah Cohen, contain information about the results of studies on the subject.

The research methods and findings vary, but scientists almost unequivocally blame genes, ancestors and biology for behavioral tendencies and sleep preferences associated with our individual bird categories. On one hand, it's a relief to know it's not our fault when we burn the midnight oil and feel groggy because we have to get out of bed before our bodies are fully awake. On the other hand, we can't blame our kids when they do the same thing. They inherited it from us.

Researchers have attributed everything, including our relationships, food choices, medical conditions and life-spans, to our inherited body clocks. Check out the WebMD feature, Why You're an Early Bird or a Night Owl.

Whether you are pro or con Daylight Saving Time, an owl, lark or hummingbird, and no matter which hemisphere you call home (those in the southern hemisphere are springing forward--and expecting summer--those lucky ducks) you don't have to lose sleep due to the time change.

For excellent tips on getting enough shut-eye, consult Belleruth's free report, An Epidemic of Sleeplessness and visit the Sleep and Insomnia section in our Online Store for audio programs, sleep masks and aromatherapy products, designed to address a myriad of sleep problems or simply lull you to sleep in a soothing, protective environment.

If you live in the USA, don't forget to set your clock back one hour on Sunday, Nov. 2. Some countries are observing the move to standard time on other dates. For information about your area, consult Daylight Saving Time.