Sleep Expert Shares Practical Tips for Coping with Time Shift and Minimizing Negative Effects on Your Health.
Whether we like it or not, daylight saving time will begin at 2 a.m., Sunday, March 12, when clocks are moved forward one hour. Light will last longer into the evening, but the sun will rise later in the morning than during standard time.
Many welcome the opportunity to spend more time outdoors with an extra hour of daylight. But the start of the annual ritual of “springing forward” also means we’re losing an hour of sleep, leaving many of us feeling sluggish and tired.
Dr. Kendra Becker, a sleep medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, says preparing your body for the time change helps you better cope. She notes the effects of switching to daylight saving time on your sleep cycle could have dangerous consequences unless you take certain steps to minimize the impact.
“This temporary loss of sleep can increase your tiredness, worsen your performance of tasks, and studies have shown it could also increase your risk of heart attacks and car accidents,”
Dr. Becker cautioned. “Children affected by sleep deprivation also have a more difficult time in school with potentially worsened behavior.”
Dr. Becker notes that our internal sleep cycle often normalizes within a few days or up to one week after daylight saving time starts. To help you cope with the daylight saving time shift, Dr. Becker shared four practical tips that can help you adjust to the time change and minimize any potential negative effects. She stressed getting adequate sleep is essential to good health.
- Gradually adjust your sleep schedule. You should shift your bedtime and wake-up time a few days before the time change to help your body adjust.
- Create a bedtime routine. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help your body recognize when the time is right to wind down and prepare for sleep.
- Get plenty of sunlight. Get outside and soak up some sun, especially in the morning. By doing so, this will help your brain produce melatonin naturally and earlier in the evening, assisting in the adjustment of your biological clock.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid electronics, late snacks, caffeine, and alcohol before going to bed. These things can disrupt your sleep patterns, making it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
“Losing an hour of sleep may be challenging for many in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be hard,” Dr. Becker said. “It’s all about embracing the change and taking steps to minimize the impact. After all, we don’t have a choice. The time change will take place whether we want it to or not, so from a health standpoint, we need to adjust and embrace it!”