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Daylight Savings Time Might Make People Less Caring

nap Daylight savings time sleep

The changeover to Daylight Savings Time may cause people to be more irritable and less likely to care about their fellow man. This is according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkley.

The study, which was published in the journal PLoS Biology, dealt with the lack of sleep caused by the initial switch to Daylight Savings time made every spring. The researchers found that this loss of sleep can make people less concerned with the welfare of others.

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No one likes that first day of work after we change to clocks in the spring. When Daylight Savings Time begins we all lose an hour of sleep because we set the clocks ahead by one hour. So we get a feeling of jetlag as we adjust. For at least a week it is harder to fall asleep at night because whatever time a person usually goes to sleep is now actually an hour earlier if you go to bed at 11 PM your body still knows that it is really just 10 PM.

And the same thing happens when we get up in the morning at the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. We need to get out of bed at sat 7 AM each day, but our bodies think that it is only 6 AM and want more sleep. So, this leaves us all feeling cranky and no one is surprised to hear that people in general are in a bad mood during that week.

And another study from PBS explains that springing forward is harder on the body than when we set the clocks back in the fall. This is because our clock time is moved an hour later; in other words, it feels like 7 a.m. even though our clocks say it is 8 a.m. So it’s a permanent shift to later morning light for almost eight months – not just for the day of the change or a few weeks afterward. This is particularly notable because morning light is valuable for helping to set the body’s natural rhythms: It wakes us up and improves alertness.

The PBS article further explains that during the beginning of Daylight Savings Time we have less light in the morning since we are actually getting up earlier and the lack of morning sunlight affects the mood for the day.

And the UC Berkley study says that we also show less concern for others because the lack of sleep causes a loss of empathy, if only temporarily.

As the researchers state, “Humans help each other. This fundamental feature of homo sapiens has been one of the most powerful forces sculpting the advent of modern civilizations.”

The researchers studied 3 different groups: Study 1 involved 24 healthy adult participants taking part in a counterbalanced, cross-over experimental design with two conditions: one night of sleep, and one night of sleep deprivation. In each condition, participants performed a standardized helping questionnaire as well as a social cognition task performed during a functional MRI scan. Study 2 involved a microlongitudinal design evaluating a total of 136 individuals. Participants completed helping questionnaires and sleep diaries for 4 consecutive days under free-living conditions. Finally, Study 3 assessed large-scale altruistic donation behavior during the annual transition to DST, analyzing over 3 million charitable donations made between the years 2001 to 2016 in the US.

They found that the study demonstrated a significant decrease in the desire to help others under conditions of sleep deprivation, relative to those same individuals when sleep rested.

But this is something that would apply to anyone who does not get enough sleep, regardless of the reason. And there are plenty of medical studies that show why a good night’s sleep is so important, so this is just another reason to be sure to get to bed inside.



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