As daylight saving time approaches, many of us look forward to the longer days and warmer weather that come with spring and summer. I can't speak for you but I know I am.
However, the time change can also have a significant impact on our sleep quality and duration.
Let's explore 7 ways that the time change can disrupt your sleep and what you can do to minimize its impact.
- Disrupts your circadian rhythm
The most obvious way that the time change can disrupt your sleep is by throwing off your circadian rhythm, which is your body's internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
When you move your clock forward or back an hour, your body has to adjust to the new schedule, which can take several days. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, waking up earlier than usual, or feeling more tired during the day.
- Interferes with the production of melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces in response to darkness, and it helps you feel sleepy and fall asleep. The time change can interfere with the production of melatonin, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Yes, you can get some at the store but is it really good for you?
- Increases the risk of accidents
Research has shown that the time change can increase the risk of accidents, particularly during the week following the springtime change. This is likely due to the effects of sleep deprivation, which can impair cognitive function and increase the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents.
- Causes mood changes
The time change can also cause mood changes, particularly during the week following the springtime change. Research has shown that individuals experience more irritability and have difficulty concentrating following the springtime change. These effects are particularly pronounced in people who are already sleep-deprived.
- Aggravates sleep disorders
If you already have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea, the time change can aggravate your symptoms. One study found that individuals with insomnia took significantly longer to fall asleep and had shorter sleep durations during the week following the time change.
- Affects productivity
Sleep deprivation can also affect productivity, both at work and in your personal life. Research has shown that individuals experience more fatigue and have difficulty concentrating following the springtime change, which can impair their ability to perform tasks effectively.
- Can worsen mental health
Finally, the time change can worsen mental health, particularly in individuals who are already prone to anxiety and depression. One study found that individuals with insomnia reported higher levels of depression and anxiety during the week following the time change.
What can you do to minimize the impact of time change on your sleep?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of time change on your sleep. Here are some tips that may help:
Adjust your sleep schedule gradually: Try to adjust your sleep schedule gradually in the days leading up to the time change. This can help your body adjust more easily to the new schedule.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to help signal to your body that it is time to sleep. This may include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Limit exposure to electronic devices: Exposure to electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to limit your exposure to these devices in the evening and at bedtime.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep quality and duration. Try to avoid consuming these substances in the evening and at bedtime.
Get plenty of sunlight: Exposure to natural sunlight can help regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to spend time outdoors during the day, especially in the morning.
Keep your bedroom dark and cool: A dark and cool bedroom can help promote restful sleep.
For many, time change can have a significant impact on sleep quality and duration. Try out some these strategies, we have/do and they help us get the sleep we need to function at our best.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Healthy Sleep Habits." Accessed January 15, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/healthy_sleep.html
National Sleep Foundation. "Sleep and the Time Change." Accessed January 15, 2021. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-and-time-change
Harvard Health Publishing. "How to adjust to daylight saving time without losing sleep." Accessed January 15, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-adjust-to-daylight-saving-time-without-losing-sleep
Roenneberg, T., et al. (2019). Why daylight saving time should be abolished. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 34(3), 227-230.