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Daylight saving time: Is it still messing with you?

By today, you would think that you would be over the recent time change. However, it's Wednesday and many Maryland residents are finding it difficult to get through this work week.

A source explains that losing an hour on Sunday results in an extra sleepy morning. The time adjustment affects many individuals' productivity and mood. Furthermore, an article notes that daylight saving can induce a car accident, workplace injury or even a dip in the stock market.

A physician explains, "It's an interesting paradox, because traveling one time zone east or west is very easy for anyone to adapt to." He adds, "But in daylight saving time, the new light-dark cycle is perversely working against the body clock. We're getting less sunlight in morning and more in the evening." For this reason, we are more at risk for accidents and injuries that are caused by drowsiness.

The body clock is a collection of neurons in the brain that creates the sleep-wake cycle, which is known as the circadian rhythm. The cycle spans around 24 hours for each individual. Each day, the cycle needs a signal, such as sunlight, to reset it. When light shines on us, it adjusts our cycle from approximately 24 hours to exactly 24 hours. However, if the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles do not align, people feel drowsy and out-of-sync.

It is hard to adjust to the time change, but there are a few ways to get your cycle aligned:

• Get sunlight: Getting morning sun can help the brain's sleep-wake cycle calibrate with the new light-dark cycle.

• Melatonin: Taking melatonin (less than 0.3 mg) late in the afternoon can also help align the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles.

• Avoid evening light

The quicker you adjust to daylight saving, the faster you will feel like yourself. Most importantly, you will reduce your risk of car crashes and other accidents, which are commonly caused by a lack of alertness. If you have not adjusted as of yet, look into these tips. You may be back on track next week.

Source: ABC News, "Daylight saving time 2012: How to spring forward," Katie Moisse, Mar. 9, 2012

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