You may only worry about losing an hour of sleep when the clocks spring forward this Sunday, but the time change can also pose risks for your health.
Research shows that the risk of stroke, heart attack and car crashes all increase in the days following the switch to daylight saving time.
How Time Changes and Light Affect Sleep Patterns
Time changes affect your body's natural circadian rhythm, which helps your brain signal that it's time to go to sleep and controls other organ systems.
Exposure to light is the biggest regulator of your circadian rhythm. With daylight savings time, it’s still dark in the morning and stays light later into the night. This confuses our bodies, and we need time to adjust.
A recent study of seasonal effects on sleep disruption in the U.S. found that sleep duration decreased with increasing daylight length, and shortest sleep times and earliest wake times occurred during spring.
How to Prepare for the Time Change
You can reduce the impact of the springtime change by planning a few days in advance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends going to sleep 15 or 20 minutes earlier than usual for a few days preceding the time change.
Other tips include:
- Do your evening routine earlier than usual
- On Sunday, get outside and soak up the early morning light to signal to your body the time change
- Use blackout curtains to keep sunlight out of your bedroom when sleeping
- Keep your room cool and comfortable
Sleep Medicine at University Health
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, a sleep study might help. The sleep specialists at University Health can diagnose and treat a wide range of sleep disorders in adults and children. Learn more on our website.