- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 1, 2006

What a delightfully-optimistic little phrase: Spring forward. We are awash in innocence until we’re awake enough to realize we’ve surrendered a precious hour to worship the spirits of Daylight Savings Time.

We each have our personal place on the timeline of drowsy humanity in facing this dreaded springtime ritual.

Between midnight and dawn: The youngsters slept soundly, dreaming the dreams of the too-young-to-know that life is about to change and not necessarily for the better. They were secure: Mom or dad will get them to the church, the game or the movie in time. The infant whose 2 a.m. feeding magically took place at 3 a.m. was nurtured nonetheless.

Ah, the blessings of childhood.

Time-fastidious folks spent seven days planning ahead. This rare breed of forward thinkers affectionately tucked each other beneath freshly laundered linens and comforting comforters a bit earlier each night, awakening refreshed on this good Sunday morn. Such self-enlightened forethought is highly recommended by well-rested sleep clinicians from the sleep disorder lab.

Oh, rest assured, well-rested sleep lab clinicians are in the minority.

The vast majority of us mere mortals have awoken several times, victims of nightmares. To our spouse’s dismay, we perspired profusely, moaned confusedly and mumbled incoherently about imagined terrors bursting forth from our pillowed psyches.

What scared us more out of our collective wits: dreams of perpetually resetting clocks on our VCRs, or realizing our cupboard contains only decaffeinated coffee?

Let only he who is without yawn judge his fellow sleepyheads.

On the designated day of worship, brotherly love and familial closeness, one can beg for and receive forgiveness for missing or arriving late for church services. Some folks make it their mission on this particularly Sunday to attend church.

They seek the companionship of their fellow parishioners.

They cherish the guidance and wisdom of their pastor.

And they fervently pray for the day closing with the blessing of a good night’s sleep.

The more fortunate among us can sleep as late as we like.

These improvisers often rely on such euphemistic lines as, “I’m catching up on my sleep,” implying a well-deserved rest following a hard week’s work.

Or, if truth be told, a hard week’s play.

Steer clear of those early risers who gleefully leap out of bed on the morning after Daylight Savings Time’s life-changing shock. Secretly wish for them ill-timed cravings for mid-afternoon naps and embarrassing facial collapses into their supper’s mashed potatoes and gravy.

Especially if you live with one of these people, think such evil thoughts privately, whispering nary a word in their direction. These are the people who, after all, turn the alarm clock buzzer off and the life-starting Mr. Coffee on when such activities are clearly beyond your personal ability.

On the Monday after the Sunday before, begin anew in sensing the value of all your senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and sound. They still function, but be gentle on yourself as your mind and body adjust to 7 a.m. announcing its premature 6 a.m. arrival.

Should you be reacting in extremes — either everything or absolutely nothing is hilarious or horrid — you clearly need more sleep.

Don’t disregard your other essential sense: Humor. It will help get you through both the day and the night.

Naturally, you can blame your body rhythms for being a bit off-track thanks to the hour you lost. Fear not. The time will soon come when you’re on target, on schedule and on your honor to stop watching late night talk shows.


J.B. Shelton is a freelance journalist based in Raleigh, N.C.

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