Spring forward, fall asleep sooner? Sound familiar? Many people look forward to sprining forward as it ushers in the longer days with more sunlight. However, many agree that changing the clocks can adversely affect your natural rhythm at least for the first couple of weeks. Since it is inevitable, its best to learn how to cope the changing the clocks.
Springing forward, in its more official terms, marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time was enacted by Congress as a means to help public safety, and also the economy with regards to energy usage. In turn, the majority of the nation, deals with the effects of losing an hour of sleep.
In the short term, shifting of clocks will interrupt your natural, or circadian rhythm and can affect sleeping patterns leaving you tired until your body adjusts. Depression can also be noted. In fact, according to Wikipedia, a recent study found an increase in suicides in the week following the change, with the suicide rate declining rapidly in the subsequent weeks.
So the questions remains, how does one cope with this change, as it occurs every year with no sign of ending?
First start by planning on going to bed an hour earlier each night. This will help you maintain the number of hours you sleep and will keep you feeling well rested. Slowly you will likely transition into the new time schedule.
Your body takes it sleeping cues from the light or dark it is subjected to. In the most natural of circumstances you would be outside all day and sleep all night, which is as nature intended. This tenet can be used to manipulate your sleep when the time changes. Be aware of your lighting and may an effort to be awake and exposed to light during the day, and conversely dim the light in the hours immediately prior to going to bed. This will help your body accept the cues to sleep.
Avoid stimulant use so your body can adapt to its natural sleep rhythm. This means cutting back on coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages. In addition to helping you sleep better, it will help your health overall!
Rest comes easier when you have worked your body hard. Exercise, in addition to its many other health benefits, helps you sleep easier. Take the newfound sunshine and start working out. It will get you summer ready and slumber ready!
Although most appreciate the additional sunlight, it does come with a small price. Learning how to plan for and accommodate your body’s reaction to these changes, can help ease you through the transition and into a warm and fun summer.
Daylight Saving Time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time. Accessed February 28,2011
How Sleep is Affected by Time Changes. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-time-changes . Accessed February 28,2011.