MANCHESTER, NH – It’s time.
Daylight Saving Time begins March 13 at 2 a.m., which means you set your clock ahead. Which means you lose an hour of sleep but gain an hour of sunlight at the end of your day.
For most of us, this ritual is simply part of the routine of life, like the changing of the seasons. But according to the National Sleep Foundation, this abrupt time change can cause meaningful sleep disruptions as well as an increase in short-term risk of heart attacks, stroke, traffic accidents, emergency room visits, and serious mood disturbances.
These problems arise because the switch to and from daylight saving time alters your normal pattern of daylight exposure. This change can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that helps control sleep and many other biological processes.
It’s no coincidence that Daylight Saving coincides with Sleep Awareness Week 2022 (March 13 – 19.) Developing a plan to cope with the time change can help you get your sleep and improve your overall wellness.
If you haven’t already prepared yourself by getting to bed a little earlier in the week before Daylight Saving, you can still try relaxation methods, ranging from basic deep breathing to mindfulness meditation, which can bring calm to your mind and body and make it easier to smoothly transition into sleep.
Although the time change doesn’t officially happen until 2 a.m. Sunday, set your watch and household clocks to the new time before you go to bed. This helps you hit the ground running and avoid any timing mishaps on Sunday. Most cell phones and electronic devices automatically update to daylight saving time overnight. If your devices aren’t set to update the time automatically, make sure to adjust them before bed.
Light is the central driver of circadian rhythm, so finding time for daylight exposure on the days following the change to daylight saving time can help your body’s internal clock acclimate to the new timing of light and dark.
Naps are always on the table, but if you find yourself struggling to stay awake, a short nap can help. But try keeping it to under 30 minutes – enough to boost your alertness while reducing grogginess after waking up.
Naps are best in the early afternoon when most people experience a dip in wakefulness. Avoid naps that are too late in the afternoon or evening because they can make it harder to fall asleep at night, exacerbating misalignment of your sleep schedule.
And as always, you can simply look forward to “falling back” and gaining that hour back on Nov. 6, 2022.