Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Brings Out the Zombie in Me

almond blossomsNot one for extreme temperatures, I’ve always preferred the milder climes of Spring and Fall. In fact, it’s always been difficult for me to choose one over the other, they both have had their attractive qualities. After a long, gloomy winter, the flowers and foliage of Spring are a welcome sight. And, after a long, scorching Summer, the crisp air of Autumn is definitely a relief.

No longer am I indecisive, however. I officially dread Spring now, thanks to my arch nemesis, Dumb Stupid Time.

The sun is shining. The birds are tweeting. Flowers are blooming. The temperatures are climbing. Enjoyable to most people, yes.

But, I am not, nor have I ever been “most people.” According to my husband, I am a vampire…evidenced  by my aversion to the sun and night-owlishness. God made me with fair skin that practically bursts into flames in the sun, how is that my fault? I also have an internal thermostat that completely quits working above around 78 degrees, particularly when sun is involved – once I get hot, it takes forever to cool down, and I am very uncomfortable when I’m hot. He also apparently made me to function better in the wee hours of the night, because that is when I feel most sentient.

Not very convenient when one has a family. Especially a family that is nothing like me. They don’t understand my hatred of Dumb Stupid Time. Or my abhorrence of the sun. Or that I just can’t seem to “adjust” to the time change.

And, it's very hard to enjoy warmer weather, pretty flowers and sparkly sunshine when one feels like a zombie all day...only to wake up at bed time. Thankfully, I have my buddy melatonin to help me get to sleep. Otherwise, I'd still be tossing and turning every night with only a dim hope of restful sleep.  If you are not affected by the time change in this way, (and apparently, I am the only person in the world who is, according to lovers of DST) then be thankful, because it really bites.

My friends say I’m too negative. And indecisive. So, here is something positive AND a decision: I’ve made up my mind about which season I like better…so, with a return to NORMAL time-keeping, less intense sun, the delightfully crisp quality to the air, upon which wafts the autumnal aromas of leaves and wood stoves outside, and the comforting scents of baking breads and things sweet and appley and cinnamony inside, Fall wins, hands down. Followed by Winter, where I can once again snuggle up in warm flannel sheeties and piles of blankets in which to drift off to sleep.

Spring, the harbinger of nonsensical time-keeping and months of zombie-brain…and Summer, whose only redeeming quality is fresh produce (thanks to that scorching, cancer-causing sunshine), are tied for the bottom of the list. I see no need to differentiate between the two, unless the next governor of our once fine state has the sense to repeal DST. In that case, though, I will once again be indecisive between Spring and Fall!

But, I’ll take that…and feeling normal…over the swampy, bleary-headed existence I currently spend most of the year trudging through any day.

So, now I am trying to think of ways to simplify my Dumb Stupid Time days. Which I probably should do anyway, I'm sure. But that requires some kind of ability to think ahead and to plan, to make decisions...definitely not something easy to do right now. Maybe once my head clears and I recover from the ravages of DST (in the sweet, crispy Autumn), I can actually do just that. Then I'll be better prepared for next year's Zombie Season. 

Only 231 more days...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DST 2012…It’s All in My Head? Yep, Apparently

My hatred of Dumb Stupid Time is rooted
deeply in my brain
I’m a little slow in posting my annual I-Hate-Dumb-Stupid-Time-and-Mitch-Daniels blog post. You can thank Dumb Stupid Time for that. I could barely function yesterday since we all, like well-programmed robots, dutifully moved our clocks forward one hour in an inane effort to “save daylight.” Well, I didn’t. I haven’t changed a clock since we were forced to start doing it here in Indiana in 2006. I refuse to do it. I pack my Normal Time watch away and go watch-less so I don’t have to change a clock. My husband does the dirty deed here. It’s my only recourse against this ridiculous scheme. Well, the only one socially and legally acceptable anyway. And, since I love my family and have no desire to do any time in prison, I keep my other countermeasures safely locked in isolation in the deep, dark recesses of my mind. The part that is particularly affected by Dumb Stupid Time.

Many people are aware of my hatred of DST. In case you haven’t heard my ranting and raving before, let me highlight the reasons why I despise it:
  1. wise old indian on DSTIt’s just plain stupid. You have the same amount of daylight no matter what your clock says. You don’t “save” any. You don’t get “more.” I love this picture floating around the internet, it says it very, very  well.

  2. It was forced upon the citizens of Indiana by an egomaniacal bully of a governor – Mitch Daniels. I voted the man into office the first time, and I sincerely regret it. “In his Jan. 18 State of the State Address, Gov. Daniels called the state's "quirky treatment of time itself" a handicap to Indiana businesses.” Isn’t it far more “quirky” to think we can actually change time? Isn’t it more natural to just let time be time? He also claimed the problem was that no one knew what time it was in Indiana. I’m sorry, but if Indiana never changes, then it is constant. And if you can’t figure out a constant, I don’t think the problem is with the constant…it’s with the people who aren’t intelligent enough to figure out something that never changes. And, speaking of businesses…where are all those businesses that were supposed to flood the state because they finally understood what time it was in Indiana? This probably had more to do with lining someone’s pockets than anything else. That and making sure that everyone knew what a big, powerful man Mitch Daniels is.

  3. It doesn’t save energy. I don’t know about you, but our utility bills have gotten bigger and bigger every year. We’ve lived in the same house for the last four and a half years, and there is no “energy savings” that I can see.  I finally found the study that shows the move to DST actually costs the state of Indiana…more specifically the voters and taxpayers of Indiana, $9 million more! The study was done in 2008, so you know it’s costing us more than that now. Interestingly, Japan doesn’t do DST…and they’re supposed to be so much more advanced than us. Hmmm. I’d definitely say they are more intelligent.

  4. Lastly, but most importantly, is that it makes me feel like crap for TWO THIRDS of the year. It’s getting worse and worse every year. I am not “adjusting” to it.  Monday, the day after the dumb time change, I felt tired, crabby, dizzy and hung over all day. I stayed in my pajamas and napped whenever I could. I went to bed at what my body knew to be 9:00 pm and slept fitfully…waking at least six times throughout the night. I feel like I could bite the heads off some small, furry woodland creatures today. It’s now, according to the clock, 11:07 am. I am not any more motivated to remove myself from my pajamas today than I was yesterday. I will spend the next [244 days,12 hours, 50 minutes and 8 seconds…] still feeling tired, crabby and generally “off kilter.” Many of the people who hear me complaining about Dumb Stupid Time undoubtedly think that it’s just “all in my head”. Turns out they are right…to a degree.
Our natural Circadian rhythms are regulated by the SCN. The suprachiasmatic nucleus or nuclei, abbreviated SCN, is a tiny region on the brain's midline, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions in a 24-hour cycle, using around 20,000 neurons. [Source: Wikipedia]Some of those body functions include mood regulation. DST can be very bad for bi-polar people. Isn’t it interesting that it’s located right above our optic chiasm? This means that it takes its cues from the light or darkness in our environment. So, messing with the clocks messes with the natural order of things. How typically human.

It is also typically human to assume that a small change in something won’t really affect anything else. Or, just because it doesn't bother YOU, then no one else must be affected by it either. You know, just a small tax increase here and an a few pennies’ tax added on there won’t affect anyone really. You won’t even notice it. But the broader picture shows that slapping a few pennies’ tax on a few billion people equates to a whole lotta change. And while it may not affect YOU personally, some group, government entity or politician somewhere is going to benefit greatly from that little bit of change squeezed out of your pocket.

It’s also very interesting that there really haven’t been a whole lot of studies done on the effects of forcing people to follow a day that is completely unnatural.  However, there are a few intelligent, non-ostrich type people who seem to think more studies are needed to assess the long-term impact of forcing people to follow Dumb Stupid Time. Given the social deterioration in our country over many decades, I think it’s worth a look to see if there is any connection. Believe me, it is a very tenuous thread that connects me to sanity right now.
Despite the fact that approximately 1.6 billion people experience DST, he [Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany] continued, few studies have investigated its impact on human physiology and behavior. The results of the few, relatively small studies that have addressed the question have generally suggested that sleeping patterns adjust within days.
In a large survey, which examined the sleep patterns of 55,000 people in Central Europe, Roenneberg's group now shows that the timing of sleep on free days follows the seasonal progression of dawn under standard time, but not under DST.
In a second study, they analyzed the timing of sleep and activity for eight weeks around each of the two DST transitions in 50 people, taking into account each individual's natural clock preferences, or "chronotypes," ranging from morning larks to night owls. They found that the timing of both sleep and peak activity levels readily adjust to the release from DST in autumn, but that the timing of activity does not adjust to the start of DST in spring, especially in those who like to stay up late and sleep in.
"While we generally think that the time changes enforced by the DST transitions are 'only an hour,' they have far more drastic effects if viewed in the context of the circadian clock's seasonal changes," Roenneberg said. "This seemingly small hour translates to a repeat of 10 weeks in the annual progression of the relationship between our sleep-wake cycle and dawn--four weeks in spring and six weeks in autumn. In effect, it's as if the entire population of Germany, for example, is transported to Morocco in spring and back again in autumn."
Indeed, "after taking the seasonal adjustment into account, our results show that the human circadian clock does not adjust to the DST transition," Roenneberg said. "This is especially obvious in the late chronotypes in spring when one looks at their daily activity patterns. Essentially, their biological timing stays on standard, winter time, while they have to adjust their social schedules to the advanced clock time throughout the summer."
*Reference:  Kantermann et al.: "The Human Circadian Clock's Seasonal Adjustment Is Disrupted by Daylight Saving Time." Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1--5, November 20, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.025
The researchers include Thomas Kantermann and MyriamJuda of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich; Martha Merrow of University of Groningen in Haren; and Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich.
[Source: Science Daily]
All the underlining and red font color above is my doing. Finally, proof that it’s not really all in my head. You see, I’m a night owl. I’ve had to pretend not to be since having children, and it’s very, very, very hard. I hate getting up early in the morning. I want to wake up with the sun, not in the dark…although I do love the quiet before the kids are up, the quiet in the deep, dark hours of the night is what I crave.

So, all my crabby, groggy, hung-over-ness is not because I’ve talked myself into it, it’s because it is COMPLETELY UNNATURAL TO MOVE THE CLOCK FORWARD IN THE SPRING AND MY BODY DOES NOT ADJUST TO IT. If your body does, then good for you. Mine, however, does not. And I will never like Dumb Stupid Time because (see the list of reasons above, if you missed them) it completely goes against my nature.

So, yes, you are right…it IS all in my head…just not the way you think.

Check for Swagcodes Here!

Integrity is a Lost Virtue, but I Choose to: