Posts tagged Circadian rhythm

Daylight Savings Time revisited

Diagram illustrating the influence of dark-lig...

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We were sitting at the dinner table when Denny, my brother-in-law (yes, the one of Trefz Family Summer Holiday fame – follow link), announced that their 16-month-old daughter sounded the alarm Sunday morning at 5:00am, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, that nemesis of modern-day parents of young children. For those without young children who couldn’t imagine what the fuss is about, allow me to explain.

Children are wired with a no-fail biological alarm that goes off at the same time every morning. In some cultures around the world (namely those that don’t rely on clocks and watches) these circadian rhythms are honed and heeded for a lifetime. I need only think of Henry, our Ughandan housemate from years ago, to whom we vainly tried to explain the concept of Daylight Savings Time. “No, no,” he would insist. “Look at where the sun is in the sky! It is not time to go yet!”

And so it is that when that alarm goes off in our 16-month-old niece’s brain, her legs hit the mat and her lungs prepare to sound the alarm for the rest of the house. This is annoying at any time of the day, but when 6:00am becomes 5:00am as a result of the adult world setting back their clocks, it can be downright infuriating.

I know this only too well, because I blogged about it last year. (The post had been removed but has since been re-posted in light of today’s topic). It took our children months to re-calibrate their biological clocks, at which time we were ready to “spring forward” again. As a result of the daily disruption to my morning peace, I decided to take action, and have come up with the perfect solution.

The solution is quite simple really: make your children grow older by at least a year and see what happens. If that doesn’t do the trick, work at it for one more year and you’re bound to see some results. I spent all of last year diligently feeding and watering them, ensuring they receive plenty of rest at regular intervals, and I’m happy to report that they have all grown by about an inch in height, packed on a few pounds apiece, and are dealing with Daylight Savings Time like real troopers. The baby (toddler, actually) is just sleeping right to the new 7:00am, while his brothers have the maturity to just quietly turn on their reading lights and look at books until their digital clock shows 7-0-0. I’m happy to report that my brilliant plan yielded results that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. So Denny, take heart, work hard, and I’m sure next year you’ll be singing the praises of my method while drinking your morning coffee in total peace and quiet.

My next project is to find a way to ensure that children actually sleep through the night despite incessant and spasmodic dry coughing, ear infections, nightmares, severe congestion, bonking their heads on their nightstands, being uncovered, and lying the wrong way around on the bed. Dealing with these afflictions has been my nightly occupation for the last three weeks, ensuring that, between the three of them, I am up at least once every three hours, sometimes on the hour. In fact, I have started going to bed essentially fully dressed so that I don’t freeze when I leave my bed’s warm embrace. It’s called being prepared for working a night shift. Still, I’d prefer sleep to being fully dressed, so I’m determined to find a solution. Any tips?

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