Does Daylight Saving Time Affect My Sleep?
Twice a year, most of the United States (48 states to be exact) participates in Daylight Saving Time. During this time, clocks are adjusted by an hour to have more sunlight during traditional waking hours.
‘Spring Forward’ occurs on the second Sunday in March, and clocks are moved forward one hour. ‘Fall Back’ occurs on the first Sunday in November, and the clocks are pushed back one hour. Unfortunately, this tradition can have negative effects on our sleep.
How Daylight Saving Time Affects Sleep
Even though it may seem as simple as changing our clocks twice a year, Daylight Saving Time actually influences our sleeping habits. That is because our bodies are on a circadian rhythm that is largely reliant on our exposure to light.
When the clocks move forward or backward, our access to sunlight in our daily habits is adjusted. For example, after the “Spring Forward” event on the second Sunday in March, we experience more sun in the mornings as we are going to work and school and less sun in the evenings as we are coming home. Because of this, our circadian rhythms are disrupted, which can lead to poor sleep quality or difficulty falling asleep.
There’s data to back this up too. One study found that the average person loses 40 minutes of sleep the night AFTER the clocks are pushed forward (that’s 100 minutes of missed sleep total). There is also an increase in mood disturbances, motor vehicle accidents, and workplace injuries during Daylight Saving Periods.
How to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time
You can take the following steps to prepare your body for Daylight Saving Time and make sure you do not suffer any adverse effects because of the time change.
• Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene – Sleep hygiene is about maintaining an environment that promotes restful sleep. To practice healthy sleep habits, you should only stay in bed during sleeping hours, remove distractions from the bedroom, and get out of bed if you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes at night. This will help your body understand that the bed is for sleeping only. When you have good sleep hygiene, your body will recognize your bed as a trigger to fall asleep.
• Use Light to Your Advantage – Our circadian rhythms are triggered by light, so even though the amount of daylight in the morning and night might be changing, you can still use light to help you adjust to those changes. Light suppresses the secretion of melatonin – the sleep hormone. Put a lamp on a timer to turn on when you need to wake up – especially after November’s Daylight Saving Time. At the end of the day, make sure you are not exposing yourself to bright lights.
• Have a Strict Sleep Schedule – Setting up a regular schedule will help you fall asleep quickly at any time of the year. When our light exposure changes, it is especially important to keep your schedule the same so your body stays consistent. Create a bedtime routine and a wake-up time that stays the same on weekdays and weekends. Go through the same actions the same way every night, and your body will begin to understand that these actions mean bedtime.
• Limit or Eliminate Naps – Naps can be detrimental to your overall sleep health, so make sure you don’t overdo it. If you nap too much, it can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, putting you in even deeper sleep debt and making you even more tired the next day. If you have to nap, try to keep it to 20 minutes – anything more, and your body will be thrown out of its rhythms.
As Daylight Savings time is nearly upon us (Sunday, March 14th, 2021), Try to implement a few of these habits into your sleep routine in the coming week. If you have been experiencing poor sleep for a longer time, you could suffer from sleep apnea. Here is our online sleep screener if you are unsure of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. It was developed by cardiologists and is 92% effective at diagnosing sleep apnea. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is always ready to answer any of your sleep apnea questions.
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