It's back! The biannual 'changing of the clocks' event we treat with disdain is here yet again, and it's guaranteed to mess with our mind, body, and sleep schedule yet again too.
But why? Can't we just keep the same time all year round? Well the answer is simple. No.
The idea for time change in the states was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700's, although it wasn't implemented until a century later.
Back then, the move made a lot more sense than it does today. Since electricity didn't exist, Americans literally and figuratively went dark as soon as the sun went down.
Wanting to take advantage of the longer periods of light during summer months, it seemed that manipulating time was the best recourse.
Farmers were also major beneficiaries of the move, as it allowed them to maintain a regular cropping schedule each morning. If daylight savings time lasted year round, it would be too dark in the mornings for them to tend their fields.
Over time, there has been a growing host of reasons why daylight savings is important. It allows golf courses to stay open later as well as helping the grill and charcoal industries. Plus, it keeps more people active and productive during the summer months.
Studies have shown that the change itself can have minor effects on a person's overall health. Firstly, it throws a monkey wrench into our sleep schedules, causing some people to toss and turn and wake up throughout the night. In this sense, it's akin to getting on a plane and changing time zones. We'll call it, "time lag."
Scientists urge people NOT to take advantage of the extra hour this week, and instead try to keep a semblance of normality. Fooling your body clock into thinking everything is the same is important.
While getting enough sleep is always important, you must also focus on how your sleep is structured. Keeping a regular schedule, meaning going to bed and waking up at usual times is key.
In order to combat the effects of time change and the increased darkness of winter, try dimming your evenings lights and resisting the urge to eat late in the day. Newer iPhones have a great feature to combat eye strain, called 'Night Shift.' It changes the color pattern of your phone in the way of a Kindle, allowing you to look at your screen while still being able to fall asleep.
So why not have daylight savings time all year? It would make for some very dark mornings during the winter months, when our days are the shortest. Some U.S. cities wouldn't see the sun rise until well after 8 a.m., causing farmers havoc as well as parents who would drop their children off at bus stops in complete darkness.
What we have now isn't a perfect system, but it's about as effective as it gets.
Anyhow, here's what a winter solstice looks like in Alaska. In December, the northern tip receives just 4 hours of daylight, with the Sun hovering slightly over the horizon and dipping back down.