Daylight Savings and Sleep Impact
- Mar 11, 2016
Sure, a one-hour adjustment doesn’t sound too bad – but this one-hour change can be very disruptive for some people, particularly for those who are already sleep deprived (this number recently shown to be over 70% of American population).
There is a biological clock within a part of the brain that determines when we feel alert and when we are sleepy. The internal clock keeps our bodies synchronized with the daily light-dark cycle of the outside world. It can be reset, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen immediately.
People who normally sleep well can usually adjust to the time shift with relatively little difficulty. However, if someone has been barely coping with an undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorder, daylight saving time can unmask problems such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or periodic limb movement disorder
How long will it take you to adapt to time changes?
This is something that depends entirely upon the individual. Each person is different, therefore, could be completely different from the next in how they respond to the time change.
How will you feel during this transition?
If you are sleep-deprived already, getting by on six hours, you're probably in a bit of trouble. In this situation, you may well experience the decline in daily work performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as daytime sleepiness.
Here are a few tips to help you adjust to Daylight Savings:
- On the nights after the time change, go to bed at your usual time. You may experience some difficulty falling asleep, because your body’s clock has not yet adjusted.
- Get up at your usual time regularly. Although you may find this a bit difficult, it will help you adjust to the time change.
- Avoid sunlight or bright light in the first few evenings after the time change, as this will tend to keep you awake later and prevent adjustment of your body’s clock.
- Try to get sunlight exposure soon after awakening in the first few mornings after the time change, as this will help you adjust to the new time.
- A short nap can help make up for less sleep, but won’t help you acclimate to the new schedule. Don’t nap within a few hours of your regular bedtime to avoid disrupting nighttime sleep
- Create a sleep-friendly environment that is dark, cool, comfortable, and quiet.
- Have a relaxing routine before bedtime, such as soaking in a hot bath, reading, or listening to soothing music.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for several hours prior to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep
So there may be some tired and groggy people hitting the streets Monday morning, in the dark. Interestingly, some studies show an overall reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities due to daylight-saving time changes.
Give yourself a simple, calming routine the night of Daylight Savings Time, allowing for time to relax and become prepared for sleep.