Does daylight-saving time mess with your internal clock? Here are tips to manage the time change – LancasterOnline

Posted: February 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Spring is around the corner, and with it comes the start of Daylight Saving Time.

DST is one of the oddest times of the year. It begins the second Sunday in March at 2 a.m., so this year on Sunday, March 8 the clocks will be turned ahead one hour. It ends Nov. 1 when we fall back an hour and return to Standard Time.

Some people find it difficult to adapt to DST because by moving the clocks back or ahead we gain or lose an hour of sleep. It also means work schedules and other events change their time.

It might seem inconsequential at first, but DST messes with your body clock and it can take about one week for the body to adjust to new schedules and times for sleeping, eating and other activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reason for this is a disruption in the circadian rhythm. Also known as your sleep/wake cycle, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.

Basically the circadian rhythm communicates to the brain when we should sleep and when we should be awake, says Dr. Alison Lima, a board certified family medicine physician at WellSpan Family Medicine.

With daylight saving, suddenly the hourly schedule is different so it throws people off, Lima says.

Light is the main environmental cue. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. So it is important to expose yourself to the light during the waking hours as much as possible and on the contrary, do not expose yourself to bright light when it is dark outside.

Until your body adjusts to the new times and brighter evenings, you might have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up at the right times.

Does the time change affect everyone the same way?

No. People adjust differently. For children, however, it could be more challenging because bedtime is now different, Lima says.

Gradually adjust your childs nap and sleep times by 10 to 15 minutes each day before the time change so the shift is more gradual for them. Following a regular routine from dinnertime to bedtime will help your child slow things down and be ready to snuggle up.

People who sleep seven or less hours per day can have consequences that are more serious because sleep disruptions can affect cognitive performance. Studies link the lack of sleep at the start of DST to car accidents, workplace injuries, suicide, and depression among other things.

A group of U.S. researchers conducted a study and determined that the risk of a heart attack increased 24 percent the Monday after switching over to daylight saving time. However, the risk diminished over the remainder of the week. By contrast, it dropped 21 percent on the Tuesday after the fall time change.

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One way to help your body adjust is to gradually change the times for sleep, eating, and activity, Lima says. Start shifting your normal routine a little bit, maybe a week or two before DST starts, to ease the transition into the new schedule.

Lima doesnt recommend taking a nap in the middle of the day if you feel tired after the switch to DST because its going to decrease your ability to sleep at night.

Work through the new schedule. Stick through it and you will be able to fall asleep when you should, Lima says. And avoid doing things that close to bedtime.

The more you pay attention to your body and identify feelings of alertness or drowsiness, the better you ll feel.

Here are some tips to a smoother transition to DST:

Avoid naps. If you have to take a short nap during the day, take it early and for no longer than 20 minutes.

Don't stay up later than usual. Go to bed at your usual time to avoid messing with your internal clock. Set your bedside alarm or smartphone as you usually would and fight the urge to stay up late.

Practice good sleep hygiene. Take advantage of this moment to perform a sleep reset. Don't look at screens before bed and if you do, make sure to use blue light blocking glasses in order to avoid straining your eyes. Keep your bedroom at a temperature conducive for soothing you into a deep sleep.

Skip caffeine. As the week progresses, you may become sleepy at unusual times. Let sleep kick in naturally and avoid caffeinated beverages after lunchtime. Opt for decaf instead.

Stick to a routine with kids. You shouldn't expect the first week after the time change to go off without a hitch, but sticking to your usual schedule may be the best course of action. Some children who are more sensitive to schedule shifts may require a more extended adjustment period. However, things should be back to normal within two weeks.

Pay attention to your pets. An hour change may not seem like a lot to you, but it may confuse your pets. Keep the adjustment in mind when planning feeding times and outdoor bathroom visits. If you're on a schedule, know that it may take a few weeks before your pets get settled into a new routine.

Bring snacks to work. Your stomach isn't keeping track of the clock; it may grumble outside of your designated lunch break. Bring a few extra snacks along just in case.

Be especially vigilant while driving to protect yourself since others around you may be sleepier and at risk for making an error that can cause a vehicle crash.

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Does daylight-saving time mess with your internal clock? Here are tips to manage the time change - LancasterOnline

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