The end of daylight saving is almost upon us! If you’re like most people you love a bit of a sleep in, so rolling back the clocks on Sunday night can feel like you’re going to gain an extra hour of sleep on Monday morning. Last week’s 6 am according to your body clock is now suddenly 5 am. Time to celebrate right? Maybe not.
In this article, we’ll discuss why we have daylight saving in New Zealand and if shifting our clocks just one hour this April can have an impact on your sleep and wellbeing.
The end of daylight saving occurs in Autumn. This year in New Zealand, our clocks will be rolled back by 1 hour on Sunday 3rd April at 3:00am. In countries such as the USA who use the term Fall instead of Autumn, the phrase ‘fall back’ is used as a reminder to turn clocks back one hour. On the flip side, when daylight saving starts, we will often see the term Spring forward.
Thanks to digital technology and WIFI internet connections, most of us don’t actually have to do anything to change our clocks; overnight things like our mobile phones and computers will automatically update. That said, many Kiwi’s struggle with the clock on their car’s dashboard. We all have that friend who’s car’s time is only correct for six months of the year
The simple reason why we have daylight saving is to make the best use of the daylight available in summer. Between September and March, an hour of daylight is take from the morning and added to the end of the day. This gives us essential daylight needed to enjoy the warmer outdoor weather of the summer months; after work BBQ’s and evening trips to the beach are all made possible thanks to daylight saving.
Not all countries have daylight saving either. Countries near the Earth’s equator have an even split of light and dark; in other words their day and night are approximately the same length in time. But since NZ is closer to the south pole, there’s far more daylight in summer compared to winter. This means that daylight saving isn’t helpful to countries near the equator.
There are also some people who claim that daylight saving actually helps reduce energy consumption. Power companies in New Zealand found that power usage decreases by about 5% when daylight saving commences because less electricity is being used for lighting and appliances (1). Less electricity was believed to be needed because people stayed home fewer hours during the “longer” days of spring and summer. Most Kiwis plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours and of course, when people aren’t home, they don’t switch on the appliances and lights.
According to the website almanac.com the right term is “Daylight Saving Time“ and not “Daylight Savings Time” (with an extra “s”), though many of us are guilty of speaking it the wrong way. The technical explanation is that the word “saving” is singular since it acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb.
New Zealand first observed daylight saving in 1927 however the dates and time difference were changed a few times over the next several years. Then in 1946, daylight saving was discontinued in New Zealand and replaced with New Zealand summertime. It wasn’t until the mid 70’s when daylight saving was trialed again and eventually re-introduced in 1975.
Ten years later, in 1985 the NZ government surveyed Kiwis to get a clear picture of the public attitudes towards daylight savings and as a result, daylight saving time was extend twice over the years.
Finally in 2006 a public debate raged over daylight saving and a petition to extend daylight saving was presented to Parliament. The petition was passed and now New Zealand observes daylight saving from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April.
In 2008 a survey was conducted to ask New Zealanders how they feel about daylight savings. According to the survey results, 82% of new Zealanders approved of daylight saving, with more than half of those survey indicating that they LOVE daylight saving, while 10% disapprove of it.
Individuals who thought daylight saving had an influence on their sleep and wellbeing reported that these benefits were good with 31%of respondents stating that the effects on them were all positive while only 5% claimed they experienced negative effects and 14% claimed the impacts were both positive and bad.
Members of the Tourism Industry Association and the Hospitality Association were also requested to complete the daylight saving survey about the impact of the extension of daylight saving time in 2008. Of those that responded, 73 percent thought the extension to daylight saving was helpful for their business.
Even though we are going to gain an additional hour of sleep, that is, of course, assuming your body clock doesn’t wake you up an hour before your alarm goes off (don’t you hate it what that happens), the sudden shift in time can actually wreak havoc on you sleeping patters – leaving you to feel as though you’ve just come home from a 12-hour international flight, crying baby and all. Let’s call it – daylight saving jet lag!
This daylight saving jet lag you experience is your body’s way of telling you that your circadian rhythm is misaligned. In other words, when your own body clock doesn’t match the actual time, you will likely experience some sleep and wellbeing issues.
Your circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that affects your sleep-wake cycle and other energy changes in roughly 24-hour periods. Keeping a consistent sleep pattern that fits up with your circadian cycle makes it easier to receive the sleep your body requires.
The twice-yearly time changes connected with daylight saving time can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder to obtain sufficient sleep, which can contribute to sleep debt.
It can take your body up to two weeks to completely adjust to this one-hour shift in time, so preparing in advance, or easing into the new schedule slowly can help improve your daylight saving jet lag. Here’s some tips that will help you get good night’s sleep as you transition through the shift in time.
This ending of daylight saving is a great change to improve your sleep habits, especially if you can take advantage of that coveted extra hour of sleep on Monday morning.
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