Bring on that extra hour of shut eye

Why the fall back to standard time is good for your body

TORONTO – Canadians who hope to keep their lives running like clockwork in the coming days should feel free to trust their bodies more than their time pieces, experts say.

Most of the country is preparing to fall back to standard time by adjusting clocks an hour earlier on Sunday morning.

In an age of increasing automation, however, experts predict many may find themselves overlooking the annual chance to grab an extra hour of shuteye.

Cellphones, tablets and computers all update their internal clocks automatically, as do most devices connected to satellite.

Those Canadians that no longer have to go through the hassle of adjusting time pieces by hand may find themselves overlooking the time change and relying on their internal clocks to keep them in step with the rest of the world.

Fortunately, said Queen’s University sleep researcher Judith Davidson, the human body is usually up to the task of helping people make the transition at this time of year.

The human biological clock runs slightly longer than one day, she said, adding the average circadian rhythm is 24.2 hours.

Moving schedules back by an hour, she said, comes far more naturally than the process of moving to daylight time in the spring.

“Because it’s a bit longer than 24 hours, we naturally tend to drift later if anything,” Davidson said in a telephone interview.

“If we have to shift one way or another, this is the most natural direction to shift.”

Heeding those biological rhythms will give most Canadians a lot of options as to how they spend their extra hour, Davidson said.

Sleep experts urge Canadians to prepare for the spring time change by adjusting sleep and wake times, but Davidson’s advice for the fall version is to simply go with the flow.

“We might as well just enjoy this opportunity to stay up late if we want to, knowing we don’t have to race out of bed in the morning, that we will be able to get up and it will be the right time . . . biologically,” she said.

Davidson cautioned, however, that one group of Canadians may find the time change more of a trial than a treat.

People who suffer from insomnia may find the additional 60 minutes drags down a time of day they’ve already come to dread.

Davidson urged those people to spent that time doing anything except tossing and turning in bed, adding waiting fruitlessly for slumber is a sure way to disrupt an already tenuous routine.

Clocks fall back at 2 a.m. on Sunday except in most of Saskatchewan as well as parts of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

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