Health: Mental and PhysicalCircadian Rhythms Again

Circadian Rhythms Again

Sometimes I can’t tell if the things I have to do and the thoughts I think are making me feel bleak or if I simply don’t have the energy to do the things I do or think the thoughts I think.  Today I am inclined to think the latter.  I managed, by some stroke of luck, to get almost 7.5 hours sleep last night, and I have to say for the first part of the day I felt, in any case, more perky. Perky!  Makes me sound like a cheer leader.

Made me think of an article in the LA Times a few days back.  Some health organization is thinking of declaring the night shift “carcinogenic.”  I am used to thinking of toxic materials as carcinogenic and possibly milk, what with the hormones in it.  But the night shift?  Turns out however that people who work the night shift are more at risk for obesity, cancer, reproductive health problems, mental illness, and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Those pesky Circadian Rhythms again.  Cells all over the body function as clocks–; and guess what?  They are set to respond to light and darkness, because, guess what?—life on earth, and that includes human life, evolved to respond to light and dark, because and guess what—it’s light and heat that makes things grow.  Another thing we can blame Darwin for I guess.

But to me it just seems common sense.  Something that seems in short supply today.  One doctor announces, “It’s a myth that we alone, among all the animals, have the power to sleep when we want.”  Frankly, I have never heard of this “myth” and am glad I have not. If there are people who have heard this “myth” and believed it, they are idiots, lacking all common sense.  But doctors like to go around correcting myths they make up because it makes them sound scientific. But maybe such people exist because another doctor sees fit to say, “People think of sleep as a waste of time…. But it’s essential.”

Who the hell thinks of sleep as a waste of time?  For God’s sake?  I can only believe such people have never done an honest day of physical labor their entire lives.  Admittedly, it has been a while.  But I have done on occasion day after day of unpleasant physical labor, and I can tell you what.  Sleep is not a waste of time.

This superstructure—this so-called society or civilization—has taken us further and further away from our nature as animals.  Maybe the whole thing—the whole superstructure—has been built up to keep us from remembering that we are animals, flesh and blood that dies because it lives.  And we forget that—tell you what—at our own risk because that animal being, in what Freud might call a return of the repressed, is going to rear up and bite you in the ass.

I believe—perhaps Cousin Beth will join me—we should start a campaign to outlaw daylight savings time.  This is a nationally mandated screw up of our circadian rhythms.  Some states didn’t get with the National Plan until after WWII.  Maybe we could start at the state level and work from there.

Day Light Savings Time is Carcinogenic!


While a few April showers may lie ahead, this is about as green as it’s going to get out on the bluffs. 

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  1. Beth C.

    March 26, 2008 2:21 pm

    I will definitely join Nick in saying that daylight savings time, or any time changes, should be abolished. Just pick a time and stay with it, for heavens sake. The older I get, the harder it is to adjust to the time changes. It also didn't help that I was sick with a bad sinus infection when the time came to move the clocks ahead 1 hour. This year was the worst for me, as far as times changes go, but I have to admit that I do enjoy the extra daylight in the evening. And don't some states observe DST and others don't. What's up with that? If one state has to do it, they all should do it, so at least the entire U.S. is consistent. But apparently that's too much to ask for.
  2. March 27, 2008 8:59 pm

    at 4:20 into his interview on charlie rose he says almost the same thing but is makes more sense in the context of his argument about coffee use... I'm sure many of your students work on this theory, that they can manipulate their sleep patterns to match their lifestyle. I don't really mind the time change, what I do think is a little annoying is that only US and Canada are on this longer DST and the rest of the world is not so conference calls scheduled months ago got all messed up. I don't even think we are back in sync till this weekend? And all the patches, it was like Y2k again, but some things still are not patched. Re: changing it at the state level, any local changes nowadays have to be approved by the Feds; a ban would have to be at that level (and Canada will follow whatever we do apparently). There is hope -- a recent study suggests that running the A/C when you get home an hour early in the summer takes more energy than if you have to turn on the house lights an hour early. In theory this extension is temporary and they are supposed to seek some evidence that we are actually saving energy by doing this, maybe depending on the evidence they will just scrape the whole idea. China has an interesting idea; one time zone for the whole country.
  3. sjtingle

    March 28, 2008 11:02 am

    I read somewhere that energy is not actually being saved....and the sun should be overhead at noon, or sundials don't work....

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