Monday, November 11, 2013

TiK ToK: Circadian Rhythm and Winter Time

So, Daylight Savings Time happened a week ago, and I'm still trying to get used to it. Read: I totally understand why bears hibernate during the winter because when it's dark all the time, I want to sleep all the time. I already learned that increased exposure to sunlight can affect happiness, so whyyyy are we turnin' off the sky lights so early?!

It turns out, Daylight Savings Time usually creates more problems in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep. However, changing the clocks in either season can significantly affect your circadian rhythm, and it can take some people up to 3 weeks to fully adjust to the measly 1-hour time change! Here's what I learned about circadian rhythm:

In humans, circadian rhythm is basically a natural biological process where the body repeats behavior on a daily basis. These natural processes (the sleep cycle, for example) can be adjusted to different zeitgebers. "Zeitgeber" is an angry-sounding German word for environmental cues that affect your biological clock. The most common and influential example is daylight, but temperature, exercise, and eating patterns can also be zeitgebers, too. 

Thus, it makes sense that people naturally are more sleepy in the winter at 5 pm when it becomes dark outside. The zeitgeber is pretty much telling your body "it's nighttime, so you should cuddle up in some cozy socks and fall asleep." However, indoor lighting does affect circadian rhythm. Good news! We can (somewhat) control it. So this winter, we'll all just have to leave the bright lights on so we don't spend our evenings snoozing off

But maybe I'll just close my eyes for 5 minutes... Zzz...

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