March 07, 2022 3 min read
Feel tired in the days or even weeks after daylight saving time? You're not alone. A 2019 survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that over half of Americans feel tired when they spring forward. This corroborates previous research showing that waking up an hour earlier has a bad effect on the quality of your sleep-wake cycle.
For all these and other reasons, sleep experts everywhere are asking governments to abolish this practice. The AASM, for example, made a position statement in 2020, saying that daylight saving time is less aligned with our internal clock and may increase people’s risk of chronic health problems.
But since daylight saving time is here to stay, it’s a good idea to be prepared for Sunday, March 13, 2022, when you’ll need to adjust. Here are sleep tips to make the transition easier.
In the week leading up to daylight saving time, gradually shift your morning alarm 5 to 10 minutes earlier each day. This will create a smoother transition to an earlier wake-up time by allowing your body more time to adjust.
Of course, besides aiming for an earlier rise-and-shine time, plan to go to bed earlier than you normally do to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. To prepare for sleep, try to limit screen time, stimulating activities, caffeine, alcohol, and anything that can prevent your brain from getting into a sleepy state.
Sleep hygiene should be practiced year-round. But its importance in ensuring quality sleep is especially pronounced around this time of year. In case you’re not familiar: Sleep hygiene is all those good practices we do during the day and before bed that are conducive to quality sleep. Some examples include:
For sleep hygiene to work, you need to be consistent and make these healthy habits a part of your daily life.
Longer days and warm weather offer the perfect opportunity to take your workout routine outside. Besides being great for your fitness and happiness levels, exercising in green spaces can help your body adjust to losing an hour of sleep.
Studies show that two contributors to better sleep are physical activity and time spent in green spaces. Both physical activity and light exposure provide feedback to your circadian system when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to snooze.
The first Monday after daylight saving time hits the hardest. To ensure you don’t start your week feeling underslept, make Sunday as relaxing as possible so you can have a good night’s sleep. This may be especially helpful if you suffer anxiety or insomnia. A couple of ways to relax include:
Many of us have Sunday evening anxiety that can lead to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or fragmented sleep. Paired with the need to wake an hour earlier, you have the perfect recipe for a really bad Monday.
If you’re already a poor sleeper due to insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or snoring, then you may find the transition to daylight saving time more difficult than the rest. Face these issues head-on to avoid making your sleep suffer than it already has.
Undergoing a sleep study can help find the causes of insomnia and snoring, which is the first step towards effective treatment. Other medical tests can help find the underlying causes of many sleep problems. As far as over-the-counter remedies go, melatonin supplements for insomnia and sleep apnea mouthpieces like Good Morning Snore Solutiontongue-stabilizing devices can also help.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Survey: 55% of US adults feel tired after spring daylight saving time transition. Sep 2019.https://aasm.org/survey-results-us-adults-feel-tired-spring-daylight-saving-time-transition/#:~:text=Survey%3A%2055%25%20of%20US%20adults,of%20Sleep%20Medicine%20(AASM).
Tonetti L, Erbacci A, Fabbri M, Martoni M, Natale V. Effects of transitions into and out of daylight saving time on the quality of the sleep/wake cycle: an actigraphic study in healthy university students.Chronobiol Int. 2013;30(10):1218-1222.doi:10.3109/07420528.2013.812651
Rishi MA, Ahmed O, Barrantes Perez JH, et al. Daylight saving time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement.J Clin Sleep Med. 2020;16(10):1781-1784.doi:10.5664/jcsm.8780
Murray K, Godbole S, Natarajan L, et al. The relations between sleep, time of physical activity, and time outdoors among adult women.PLoS One. 2017;12(9):e0182013. Published 2017 Sep 6.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0182013
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