Daylight Savings Time and spirituality

(Photo courtesy of user ckaiserca)

A recent study found that sleep problems were noted after three-day weekends and Spring and Fall Daylight Savings time changes. Research has found that spirituality can help.

Daylight savings time (DST) was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin. Germany and England were the first countries to formally adopt DST. It was first enacted in the U.S. in March 19, 1918 with a law entitled, “An Act To save daylight and to provide standard time, for the United States.”

Here in Michigan, north of the equator, we have more daylight hours in the summer. Changing our clocks during the summer months (spring forward) moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.  This change gives us a net savings on energy usage in the summer, although this is a debated point. Several studies, including a 2001 study by John M. Sullivan at the University of Michigan, have found that the fall time change results in more pedestrian fatalities from car crashes at dusk. This risk drops significantly once we “spring forward” in the spring.

And, as mentioned earlier, a 2008 study found that sleep problems were noted after three-day weekends and Spring and Fall Daylight Savings time changes.

Spirituality can help with this.

A 2006 press release by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reported that over 1.6 million Americans used some form of complimentary and alternative therapy for insomnia or trouble sleeping. Of these, 39% used mind-body therapies. And a majority surveyed said they found these CAM therapies helpful.

There have been over 100 studies examining the benefits of mind-body therapies on sleep. A study¹ conducted at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that sleep quality was “significantly related” to spiritual well-being. It studied 107 HIV-infected patients, all of whom reported sleep disturbances. This study used what is called the “Spiritual Well-being Scale” (SWBS), which consists of 20 self-reported pieces of information, ten of which assess an individual’s relationship to God and ten that assess their relationship with the world and other individuals.

I remember when a spiritual approach helped me with needed rest. One morning years ago, while in my math class in middle school, I found myself feeling very tired and I had a headache. (No, I didn’t sleep in class!) I still had gym class, band class, and swim team practice yet to come in the day. I silently prayed for a few minutes, feeling a connection to God, feeling that He cares for me. About 5 minutes later, I found that the headache was gone and I felt really refreshed, like I had just had a really good nights’ sleep. I finished out the entire school day alert and active.

I often turn to the Bible to strengthen a feeling of connection with God. Here’s a favorite Scripture of mine (Proverbs 3:24) that addresses sleep and rest:

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”

Thinking about spiritual solutions to sleep issues, it is interesting to note that the NCCAM, in a recent update (September 2010), found that medications are widely used for insomnia but have side effects and are intended for short-term use whereas “evidence suggests that cognitive-behavioral (non-drug) therapies for insomnia have long-term benefits.”

Rolling our clocks forward in the spring to save daylight time, in a way, may seem like we’re introducing a bit of self-inflicted jet-lag. Many years ago, the U.S. and other countries set standard times, in part to facilitate train schedules. We’re used to being on a fixed schedule. But with airline travel available today, it is possible to spring forward or backward by an hour – or more – anytime of the year. And we may need to adjust. British Airways even has a “jet lag calculator” on their website. This online tool gives guidance in adjusting to a different schedule of light (daylight).

As we “spring forward”, a connection to the divine is a constant and spirituality offers practical help, day and night.


¹Study: Phillips, K. D., Mock, K. S., Bopp, C. M.. & Dudgeon, W. D. (2006). Spiritual well-being, sleep disturbance and mental and physical health status in HIV-infected Individuals. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 27(2), 125-139.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *