How Daylight Saving Time Can Contribute Toward Fatigue
March 5, 2020 | By: Oatley Vigmond
Feeling run down after a time change? It’s not just you. While Daylight Saving Time gives us another hour of daylight in the evening, it can be rough getting aligned with a new time, especially if you’re now waking up while it’s still dark.
The time change is similar to jet lag – except everyone experiences it. You’re suddenly thrust into a different time, where everything is an hour off from when your body expects it to happen. This misalignment can make you feel fatigued, even if you’re sleeping enough at night.
As you adjust to a time change, you may find it difficult to concentrate and remember information. You will probably feel tired and may experience daytime sleepiness. These effects are similar to that of sleep deprivation, so they can be worse if you’re short on sleep and recovering from the time change, too.
When the time changes, sunlight doesn’t shift with it. So you’re waking up an hour earlier – possibly in the dark – and going to sleep an hour earlier – possibly while it’s still light out. As light is a powerful cue for your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal time clock), this misalignment can be confusing for your natural sleep schedule.
How to Deal With Daylight Saving Time Fatigue
Although we all experience the time change pretty consistently, not everyone feels the effects the same way. You may feel the effects more or less depending on where the sun hits your geographical area, and if you are currently sleep deprived. In fact, the time change could be a wake up call to adopt better sleep hygiene year round. Try these tips if you’re feeling out of sorts from the time change:
Get exposed to light during the day. Light is a powerful cue for your circadian rhythm, so getting exposed to light at the right time can be helpful in getting aligned to the time change. Turn on bright lights first thing in the morning if the sun isn’t up, and try to spend at least a few minutes outside or otherwise exposed to sunlight when the sun comes up. Be careful to avoid light in the evening by using blackout curtains and cutting off screen time at least one hour before bed.
Create a healthy sleep environment. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. That means blocking out bright light at night, maintaining a cool temperature using air conditioning or a fan, and managing noise with a fan or white noise. It’s also important to choose a comfortable mattress and bedding.
Stay consistent with sleep. You should stick to the same sleep schedule and bedtime routine each night. Go to bed at about the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Before you go to sleep, go through the same routine, even if it’s extremely basic, so you can send your brain a signal that it’s bedtime and you need to wind down for sleep. When you’re consistent with your schedule and routine, you can make it easier for your brain and body to recognize bedtime and get with the program – even if bedtime is suddenly an hour earlier than you’re used to.
Coping with a time change can be tough, but it is temporary. Focus on maintaining good sleep habits so you can better manage the time change and sleep well year round.
This original content has been provided courtesy of guest author Amy Highland, a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.