Changing to Daylight Savings Time can be a real challenge
But fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to stay well-rested
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Daylight Savings Time (DST) can be an awesome event when it springs forward and provides extra playtime before darkness sets in.
Then of course you have the end of DST that happens in autumn of each year that provides us with an extra hour of sleep, but it also shortens the day and pushes nighttime all the way up to about 5:00 p.m. in most cases. That can be difficult, because there’s nothing weirder than leaving your home for work in the morning and then returning home in the evening, never getting a glimpse of the sun.
During that time of year, unless you grab some quick rays during the day, it can seem like you work somewhere in the polar circles and you never get a chance to see sunlight.
For many, the change to or from DST can be a hard transition to make, regardless of what time of year it is, as sleep patterns are disrupted, internal clocks are asking to be reset and morning routines are in danger of being broken, since waking up at a different time so abruptly can cause anyone to lose that pep in their everyday step.
According to the mega-mattress retailer Sleepy’s, nearly 70% of Americans said they would prefer it if DST, which happens to fall on Sundays at 2:00 a.m., could be moved to Saturday at 2:00 a.m, so people can get used to the time change over the weekend.
A Sleepy’s poll showed there’s a 16% rise in those folks who favor moving the change to Saturday, compared to a similar analysis the company conducted in 2011.
For the most part, Sleepy’s says the time change can cause all sort of problems, like becoming tired at the workplace and producing less, which of course is never good. The company also points out there's an increased number of accidents on the roads, in schools and at jobs due to folks suffering from fatigue after the semi-annual time change.
In fact, Sleepy’s started a petition that will eventually be submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would have to initiate any change.
Not just the clock
According to Nancy Rothstein, a Sleepy’s consultant and sleep expert, the time change involves far more than just remembering to set your clock twice a year, as it takes both a mental and physical adjustment and it can even cause health problems.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Rothstein says people should create their own schedules to determine when DST will start or end in their homes, by starting it a day or two before. Although Sleepy’s hopes the petition will persuade DOT to officially change the day, Rothstein says you don’t have to wait, you can change a day or two ahead of everybody else.
And for those who may be a bit groggy after the switch, Rothstein says you should give yourself a little more time in the morning before jumping in your car and going to work, whether you have to set the alarm clock a little earlier or expose yourself to some sunlight or light therapy in order to wake up.
She also says you can start preparing for the change the night before, by starting your nightly routine a little bit earlier and not eating dinner so late. This will allow you to put a few toes into the DST swimming pool before you’re forced to jump in and change your sleeping pattern.
And for the hardcore, Rothstein says going for a jog or light walk in the morning before heading to work can also make the time change easier to adjust to, although this particular suggestion would be very difficult for the person who struggles to get up and curses the morning with an extra amount of vigor during the time that DST starts and ends.
In addition, Rothstein says to avoid drinking coffee past 4:00 p.m., so you can give yourself the very best chance of getting right to sleep at night and can be refreshed and ready to go in the morning.
Also, by shutting down all of your electronics, including the TV and your mobile devices, you’ll be able to train your brain to shut down at the same time, so you’re not up at all hours of the night.
Not just Sleepy's
And if you think Sleepy’s is simply harping on how challenging DST can be to get people’s minds on sleep and mattress purchases, others too have researched how difficult adjusting your sleeping pattern can be.
According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the time change leads to more heart attacks than usual, simply because people’s sleep patterns and biological clocks have to be abruptly shifted.
“The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10% increase in the risk of having a heart attack,” said Martin Young, an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in a published interview.
“The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk deceases by about 10%,” he said. So at least it evens out, assuming you make it through the summer.
Rothstein concurs and said that forcing our bodies to undergo an immediate change will affect different people in different ways, but for those who suffer from sleep deprivation or have trouble getting the proper amount of Z’s, the time change can be trouble.
“If you think about it, the time clock may change with an easy click, but our body clock’s adjustment is more complicated,” she says.
“DST can challenge our sleep, health and even our safety by imposing an unnatural tweak to our internal clock. While the impact varies, for those who find the time change difficult or are already sleep deprived, simple shifts can ease the adjustment for sound, restorative sleep.”
This year, the time changes are on Sunday March 10 and Sunday November 3, so there’s still time to make the necessary adjustments if you need to.
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