As Daylight Saving Time begins this coming Sunday, March 14, many of us will welcome the opportunity to spend more time outdoors with one extra hour of daylight.
But, the time change also means we will lose one hour of precious sleep, and when you wake up Monday morning, you may feel sluggish and fatigued, reaching for that cup of joe for an energy boost.
Dr. Kendra Becker, a sleep medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, says preparing your body for the time change will help you better cope with the time change, noting the effects on your sleep cycle could have dangerous consequences unless you take certain steps to minimize the impact.
“This temporary loss of sleep can increase your tiredness, worsen your performance of tasks, and studies have shown it could also increase your risk of heart attacks and car accidents,” she cautioned. “Children affected by sleep deprivation also have a harder time in school and potentially worsened behavior.”
Dr. Becker noted our internal sleep cycle often shifts and normalizes within a few days, or up to one week after Daylight Saving Time starts. She recommended doing the following to help you adjust and minimize potential negative effects on your health:
Ideally, start preparing for the time change a couple of days before it begins.
To help you better adjust your sleep cycle, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for up to 3 to 4 days before the time change. Try getting up a little earlier as well, and avoid sleeping in late on days off.
Expose yourself to bright sun light in the morning after getting up, by spending some time outdoors to help shift the body’s internal clock earlier.
Finally, practice good sleep hygiene: avoid electronics, late snacks, caffeine and alcohol before going to bed, which can cause difficulty with sleep at night.
“Losing an hour of sleep may be challenging for many in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be hard,” Dr. Becker said. “It’s all about embracing the change and taking steps to minimize the impact. After all, the time change will take place whether we want it to or not, so from a health standpoint, we need to adjust and embrace it!”