BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Daylight Saving Time (DST), the annual practice of advancing clocks one hour between March and November, has been observed in most of the United States since 1966.
The idea behind daylight saving time is to “save” natural light, as spring, summer, and early fall days typically get darker later in the evening than late autumn days. and winter. When daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2022, we will put our clocks forward one hour, resulting in one less hour of sleep that night. Then, at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 6, 2022, we will set our clocks back one hour.
Even though the one hour time setting may not appear as too drastic a change, sleep experts have noted troubling patterns that occur during the transition — especially in March when we’re “moving on.” The change can impact your mood and overall health, increasing your risk of gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches and joint pain, blood sugar and insulin system disruption, high blood pressure , convulsions and hallucinations. Reduced sleep can also create problems during sleep, causing sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other symptoms of sleep disorders.
“With most adults needing 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every 24 hours, when we lose even an hour, we accumulate a sleep debt that can hurt our performance and affect our health,” said Alex McDonald, DO, a primary care physician with Grandview Medical Group in Hoover. “The only way to pay off this debt is to get enough sleep. Good quality sleep plays an important role in promoting good health and success in life.
Dr. McDonald suggests these six actions you can take before the time change to ease the transition and improve your health over time:
- Gradually change your bedtime: Two to three days before Daylight Saving Time begins, consider waking up 15 to 20 minutes earlier than usual. Then, on the Saturday before the time change, delay your alarm for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Adjusting your wake-up time in stages can help the body make a smoother transition when the time change occurs.
- Practice good sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene refers to practices that can influence sleep for better or for worse. To ease the transition from the time change, avoid consuming alcohol before going to bed. Although drinking alcohol can cause drowsiness initially, alcohol also causes sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality.
- Establish a consistent sleep routine: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day — including on weekends — is a healthy practice that can also prepare you for time changes.
- Spend time outdoors: Exposure to natural light can lessen the feelings of fatigue that often accompany daylight savings time. Spending time outdoors during the day also suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for bed.
- Nap in moderation: People who are sleep-debted due to daylight saving time may find some relief by taking short naps during the day. Limit naps to 20 minutes or less; otherwise, you might wake up feeling groggy. Rather than adjusting your wake-up time on the Sunday morning of the daylight saving time, consider taking a nap that afternoon instead.
- Avoid caffeine too close to bedtime: Studies have shown that caffeine consumed within six hours of bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle. Moderate amounts of caffeine in the morning or early afternoon should have less effect on your sleep.
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