The other side of Daylight Savings Time: Finding your circadian groove

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Getting out of bed will be hard this week. Thanks, Daylight Savings Time. Photo/Ula Gillion, Creative Commons

MANCHESTER, NH — Congratulations. You have emerged on the other side of yet another time warp — Daylight Savings has stolen another hour of your life, and you have somehow managed to muddle through Day 1.

The clock says noon, but you aren’t hungry for lunch yet. You’ve give in to cyberloafing at work, because you can’t focus on the task at hand. The clock says 10 p.m. but you aren’t sleepy. In fact, your brain seems more wired than usual, as you think about how you will feel when the alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and your body will be telling you it still wants another hour of sleep.

And that’s when things go from annoying to potentially dangerous.

→A Brief History: Everything you need to know about Daylight Savings Time

According to the Center for Disease Control, it takes about a week for your body to adjust to the changes brought on by Daylight Savings Time, leading to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time.

Sleep deprivation and fatigue notoriously leads to increased risk for mistakes, including statistically more car accidents on the Monday after we “spring ahead,” especially on the commute home from work. Those with existing heart conditions, particularly men, may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in both the spring and fall, due to disruption of circadian rhythms and sleep.

“Circadian” refers to the body’s natural functions over any 24-hour period, and includes the effects of hormones that are naturally dispersed, which prep us for expected events, like sleeping, eating, and physical activity.

One best practice is to gradually move up your routines, like meals and bedtime, for a few days leading up to Daylight Savings Time, and increase your exposure to light by 15 or 20 minutes daily.

Other common-sense tips:

  1. Go to bed at your usual time after the time change.
  2. Get up at your usual time regularly.
  3. Get sunlight soon after awakening; go outside for a walk.
  4. Avoid sunlight or bright light in the evening.
  5. Don’t nap within a few hours of your regular bedtime.
  6. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.

Be safe, and do the best you can until Nov. 3, when Daylight Savings Time ends.


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!