Since 1918’s Standard Time Act, Americans have been able to move their clocks forward one hour each spring and back in the fall. Although the dates when we change time have changed over the years, Daylight Savings Time is now ending on the first Sunday of November. This means that we will reset our clocks at 2:00 a.m. EST on November 4, this year.
This day might be something you look forward to, and think, “Yes!” You might be tempted to look forward to this day, thinking, “Yes! An extra hour of rest this weekend!” But not so fast. Temporary disruptions in the clock that regulates your natural sleepiness and alertness can cause your circadian rhythm to temporarily be disrupted. This can lead you to fatigue, reduced productivity, and trouble concentrating for days.
A One-Hour Difference can Turn into a Week of Struggle
What difference does one hour make? It’s more important than you might think. According to a Better Sleep Council survey, 40% of Americans say that it takes them at least a week to get back to their normal routine after resetting their clocks. Sorry, ladies. 46% of women reported having difficulty with time changes than 32% of men.
Liverpool John Moores University, England, conducted a sleep study to confirm what many people feel. Researchers found that people were more likely to wake up in the mornings, fell asleep more easily, and woke up more frequently during the night after the fall time change. The cumulative effect of all these sleep problems suggests a loss of one hour of sleep. This is a tragic and ironic twist of events, as the fall time change gives us an extra hour each day.
Unless you are in Arizona, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico, Daylight Savings Time is not an option. You will have to adjust to the time change and all its consequences. You wouldn’t want an hour late to every appointment over the next 18 weeks, would you?
You can however prepare yourself for the possible negative side effects of time changes by using sleep strategies. These simple tips will make it easier than trying to remember which button changes the time in your microwave.
- Pumpkin seeds can lift your mood. This tasty snack may improve your sleep quality by increasing serotonin levels and magnesium. Be sure to not eat anything close to bedtime.
- Create a healthy bedtime routine. You should also schedule at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, just as you do for exercise and work. A consistent bedtime routine will make it easier to transition from awake to sleep.
- Get up in the morning with the sun. Natural light can improve your mood, alertness, and energy levels. Open the curtains immediately you awaken and, if it’s possible, take a walk in the morning. Turn on lots of light in your home if you wake up before sunrise
- Avoid taking long naps. It could make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest. Napping stimulates the body’s desire to sleep so that you are less tired when you retire.
- Establish a media curfew. Turn all electronic devices off at least an hour before you go to bed. Blue light from your screen can make it harder to fall asleep. You should also switch your electronics to “night mode” before going to bed. You won’t be distracted by the bright yellow light coming from your screens before bedtime.
- Warm feet and a cool head are important. Comfortable sleeping requires a bedroom temperature of 65-67 degrees.
- Do a bedroom checkup. You have the perfect time to discuss the importance of sleep with your family and take a hard look at your bedroom. If you ask yourself these questions, you’ll soon be on your way to improving your sleep.
It is usually easier to adjust to the time change than when we go back to Daylight Savings Time in March. Bookmark our previous blog to learn how to make the “spring ahead” time change more manageable.