Fall Back, Spring Ahead

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • The clocks went back an hour on November 4th. I often wonder what the purpose of this twice yearly muddling of the brain with time changes. The original purpose was to give farmers and other workers extra daylight hours during the summer, but now almost all machinery is equipped with bright lights. People can work day and night.


    Spring, I believe, is harder on sleep patterns than fall because we seem to lose an hour. We don't. Not really. We just take that hour off one end of the day and tack it on the other. In the fall we seem to gain an hour, but all we are really doing is reversing what we did in spring.

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    Falling Back Into Your Schedule

    Did you enjoy your extra hour of sleep, gift of the time change this fall? Or, like me, wake up at the regular time and gain an extra hour to do as you please?

    The time change, however, can cause problems until people adjust. Some folks show up early for work or school, or with the time change on a Sunday like this year, arrive at the church an hour early and wonder why the doors aren't open.

    Your digestive system may wonder why you're trying to starve it when lunchtime and dinnertime pass with nary a morsel. In a day or two, however, most people will be back on their usual routine with barely a glitch.

    Babies and the Time Change

    Children, however, may find the adjustment a bit tougher. Take that baby you brought home from the hospital a few weeks or months ago and finally got onto something resembling a livable schedule.


    He or she doesn't know what's going on with the time change. Tears of frustration will probably be baby's response and it could take several days to get that schedule adjusted. But, be patient. Things will get better with the passage of time.

    Older Children and the Time Change

    Older children, too, will find it difficult to adjust. Sure, school seems to be starting an hour later, but classes are adjourning an hour later. Especially in more northern regions, this means by the time children get home from school, it's an hour closer to darkness.

    This is even truer for children who spend the day at day care while parents work. It may already be dark when they get home or at least by the time they finish dinner. Playtime is cut down and there's less time to burn off all that excess energy before bedtime. Falling asleep, even though it's an hour later, may not be as easy. One solution might be to come up with some indoor games to keep them occupied for that extra hour.

    Teenagers and the Time Change

    Teenagers, already living on a difficult sleep pattern, and seeming to need more sleep than adults, will relish the extra hour's sleep in the morning. However, as with the younger children, when they get out of class it's an hour nearer to darkness. Extracurricular activities - sports, dating - and part-time jobs will result in more time walking to and from home in the dark. Safety concerns arise. Perhaps it might require more rides or other safety precautions.

    But people do adjust, even teenagers. All will be back on schedule long before next April, when we get to do it all in reverse as we "spring ahead." In 2007, the whole Time Change system changed with "Spring Ahead" in mid March and "fall back" in November.


Published On: November 13, 2007