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Biological Clock

March 21, 2013

Feeling any ill effects after switching to daylight saving time? The minor grumbling I’ve heard from friends consists of, “I wish they’d pick a time and leave it there.” Even though clocks have sprung forward one hour to afford us the opportunity to enjoy more daylight in the evening hours, there always seems to be a lag as folks adjust to the ‘new’ time.

This is exactly the conversation I was having with a friend of mine at the “Y” Friday morning when she mentioned getting used to the time change. Personally, daylight saving time actually works better for me because I’m up so early in the morning. And as soon as the sun is coming up around 6am towards the end of May the canine crew and I will already be on our morning walk.

Then she went on to add that a friend of hers swore her animals were affected by the time change also. My first thought was, “Realllly?” Even though this sounds a little far-fetched to think animals are affected, but they have biological clocks too. So I thought I’d do a little research on what we loosely refer to as our “biological clock” in terms of: Are we a morning person, a night person, or a teenager (which scientists are researching to discern if they even grasp the concept of time)?

What I discovered was a lot of scientific terminology and quickly realized we’ve been using the term ‘biological clock’ much too loosely.

Hey best mommy, know what time it is?

Let me explain. Apparently there are only two directions the biological clock goes. One is Circadian Rhythm, referring to the night/day phases of our 24-hour day. The other refers to a woman’s age and her inevitable decline in fertility. Thus, women in or approaching, their thirties feel as if their ‘biological clock’ is running out. In contrast, we never feel our ‘biological clock’ is running out when the sun sets. I’m sure you’re wondering what all of this has to do with daylight saving time? Me too. Yet in researching the Circadian Rhythm of plants, animals (including humans) and algae, it’s clear that our internal clocks are in sync with solar time; in other words, night (sleep) and day (wake). And studies prove morning people are happier than night owls because they are in sync with their biological clocks.

That being said, science has gone on to say that even when the ‘night and day’ clues are missing the rhythm of the organism persists on schedule with the rising and setting of the sun. This Circadian Rhythm, however, does not apply to college students, who like teenagers, have not yet synced. Studies have shown, however, that as young adults grow up, taking on more responsibility such as work and family, they become a morning person. Makes sense we’d be happier when the sun is shining as opposed to living life after sunset. Explains why people have trouble working third shift. Apparently, it rubs our Circadian Rhythm grain the wrong way.

Getting back to my conversation at the “Y”, I was astonished to realize my canine crew always came to me with those puppy dog eyes and that endearing “I’ll love you forever” look around three o’clock every day. So I thought for a moment and mused over the fact that they hadn’t done that since time sprung forward. Wowzer, I was telling my friend my dogs prefer being on daylight saving time too because I try to feed them around four each day, which in winter is three, but now we’re back to the four, which really was the original three but changed to four with the introduction of DST. Are you following me?

Anyway, I was so excited to think my dogs prefer DST as I do. Then after exactly one week today (Sunday) at exactly three o’clock they came to me with those beautiful brown eyes and that “You’re the best mommy” look and wanted dinner. What can I say, I now realize my canine crew can simply tell time and evidently the clock on the microwave overrides their biological clock. So let’s eat!

Can you imagine...a teenager with a biological clock?

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