Daylight Savings Time and sleep

By • Published: March 11th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Once again, it’s time to take a long, hard look at the teeny-tiny knobs on your wristwatch and ask, “How the heck do I change the time on this again?”

Daylight Savings Time is again upon us, and for most of us, the minor annoyance of losing one hour of precious weekend sleep is mitigated by the promise of more hours of sunshine in the early evening.

But there is one other factor to consider as we spring forward, how does this change in time affect your health?

Studies have shown that Daylight Savings Time can have a negative effect on our circadian rhythms, the internal clocks that play a key role in how our bodies work. Namely, circadian rhythms help regulate how we sleep and when we wake up.

What does this mean for you? In short, the spring forward this weekend may have much more of an effect on your sleep than losing an hour at night. Experts say the effects on our sleep and bodies could actually linger for months.

In 2007, German researchers reported that your body clock isn’t as easy to change as the clock hanging on the kitchen wall. In fact, while we spring forward, our body clocks tend to stay stubbornly in place. According to the study, our bodies and patterns adjust fine when we move forward an hour in the fall, but we struggle with the transition in the spring. Springing forward is particularly hard on night owls who like to stay up until the wee hours and sleep in.

Short of moving to a state or country that does not observe Daylight Savings Time, there is little one can do to stop the problem. But there are ways to cope.

Establish a bedtime routine to prepare your body for sleep. Also, try to stick to a consistent sleep/wake schedule.

These tips should help make Daylight Savings Time just a little less tiring.