Now that our clocks have been turned forward and we’ve lost an hour of sleep with have to deal with the adjustment to daylight saving time. Studies published in the British Medical Journal back up the fact that our bodies react in a negative way to the time change.
In fact, the Monday after we “spring forward” for Daylight Saving Time, there is a 5 percent to 8 percent increase in crashes and hospitals report a 24 percent spike in heart attack visits. And for the 34 percent of us who are getting less than the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep, losing just one hour can have serious consequences.
Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Neurology Department at the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center and others offers these tips to help you adjust to Daylight Saving Time:
Eat dinner earlier. Since our sleep cycle is impacted by our appetite, eating earlier will help prepare you for bedtime. “We have a circadian rhythm that coincides with the time we eat,” Rodriguez explains. “So, we need to coincide our sleep pattern with our eating pattern.”
Avoid screen time before going to bed. Experts have advised those who are sleep deprived to stay away from screens and devices before bed for years, but this advice is even more crucial when Daylight Saving Time kicks in, says Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He points out to ABC News that reducing time in front of the TV, computer, or smartphone will help restless sleepers get extra shut-eye before losing an hour.
Take an afternoon nap. If you don’t think you’ll be able to get to bed, take a nap so that you are not exhausted the following day, says Czeisler.
Use a light box to ease into the day. For those who are accustomed to waking up at dawn, Daylight Saving Time can pose a problem. “Sunlight primes the body to wake up so its going to be difficult for many folks,” Rodriguez says. People who have difficulty might try a specially designed alarm clock that slowly brightens the room as you wake up, mimicking the feeling that it’s daylight outside.
Czeisler says that its important to be proactive.
“The systems that are affected by sleep loss are affected by inflammation,” he says, noting that the immune system, cardiovascular system and appetite hormones can all go haywire without enough sleep.