5 Ways to Cope with the Time Change
Posted on March 8, 2019
Most people in the United States will lose an hour of sleep as clocks are moved ahead for the beginning of daylight saving time.
While many enjoy the perks of an extra hour of sunlight, successfully transitioning your sleep pattern typically can take up to a week, said sleep specialist Dr. William A. Broughton, a professor of internal medicine at USA Health College of Medicine who is board certified in critical care medicine, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine.
“Your intrinsic circadian rhythm is set for a time of sleep onset based on light,” Broughton said. “It turns out the blue light that comes from daylight (and our various screens) tells you it's daytime. When it declines (as the sun sets) that’s the signal to our brain that it’s time to get ready for sleep."
The beginning of daylight saving time suddenly disrupts the sleep/wake pattern.
Broughton offers these tips on transitioning to a new schedule:
- Consider adopting the new sleep/wake schedule on Friday night. That would give you two days to get used to the new schedule and perhaps make you feel less fatigued on Monday.
- Don’t pop pills. “Sedatives don’t help,” he said. “We don't recommend people take medication for the one-hour change." This includes supplements such as melatonin.
- Don’t sleep in on Sunday. “Get up at the time you would normally go to work on Monday and expose yourself to sunlight," said Broughton. “If you awaken like it is a work day on Sunday, you will be a day ahead in making the adaptation.”
- Try not to nap to compensate for sleep loss. That will just slow down your transition.
- Give yourself some time. “You are going to be an hour sleep deprived until your circadian rhythm adjusts,” he said. “Then you will get back into a normal pattern of sleeping and waking. You can change the clock in a few seconds, but you can't change the clock in your head overnight. It takes about a week to get your brain trained again.”
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