Can Daylight Savings Affect Your Quality of Sleep?
It’s that time of year again. No, not Halloween. The time that some people love, and others despise: the end of Daylight Savings. And I know what you’re thinking, how could anyone hate getting an extra hour of sleep? Believe it or not, the time change does affect our bodies in several ways even if it’s only an hour and even if it’s an extra hour. I’m sensing a bit of skepticism. Allow me to break it down for you while using my super sleep sleuthing powers.
Help Your Circadian Rhythm Get Back in Tune
According to Emma’s own sleep expert, Verena Senn, “By turning our clocks backwards or forwards, our internal circadian rhythm desynchronizes with our current day-night cycle which can have a direct impact on our health, well-being, and ability to function properly.” What is your circadian rhythm, you might be wondering? Think of it as your internal clock; the thing that keeps your body on schedule. You might have observed that you will normally wake up around the same time on most days, get hungry around the same times, and feel sleepy around a certain hour. That’s your circadian rhythm, and it gets thrown off when the time change happens. Circadian rhythm is influenced by sunlight and darkness, and based on environmental signals, the brain will activate certain hormones that have a direct influence over your metabolism and body temperature.
But it isn’t the most difficult task to get your circadian rhythm back in sync and to secure a great night’s sleep. Senn also states that, “Within a couple of days, our circadian rhythm usually adjusts to the new time schedule naturally. However, for a smoother transition, we should expose ourselves to sunlight early in the morning to suppress the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and reset the circadian rhythm.” You might accomplish this by going on a morning walk or jog through the neighborhood or sitting outside for breakfast. In general, you should be getting around twenty minutes of aerobic exercise and this even more important when trying to press the reset button on your circadian rhythm.
Evenings are also important for preparation when getting back into the sleep groove. I’m not your mom, but I will also warn you that drinking alcohol and caffeine is also a no-no if you’re having problems adjusting to the new time. I’ve said this before in other blog posts, but it warrants repeating: put that cell phone away! Blue light from electronic screens will keep you awake so I’d recommend reading before bed or perhaps meditation or listening to soothing music. I’ve made you a playlist on Spotify for you to fall asleep to the most calming sounds. Lastly, make sure your bed chamber is in optimal condition with proper lighting, cool temperature, and of course a comfortable, supportive mattress.
Use the Extra Hour Wisely
You know a lot of people get really excited about their extra hour of sleep, but how many actually use it? Senn adds that, “Although in autumn people gain an extra hour at night, this commonly leads to them using it to stay up later into the night which may then in turn ultimately contribute to an even shorter night of sleep after all.” So maybe instead of staying up late finishing a movie, you get yourself to bed on time to experience the full extra hour and all its glory. If not, you risk starting off on the wrong foot and waking up tired rather than rested. It has even been reported that more traffic accidents related to sleep deprivation have been reported around the time change dates.
Ultimately it can take anywhere from 4 to 7 days for your body to completely adjust to the time change. Listen to your body and see how it reacts. Maybe you feel tired, maybe you feel energized. It is important to stick to a set schedule and not deviate too much from it. Your body falls into
patterns, and when our sleep is disrupted, it can have a major consequences on how we feel and perform at work and in our personal lives. Good luck to all you nap lovers out there, and I’ll see you in the next one!