How the Time Change Messes with Your Sleep Pattern

Daylight savings time may give you an hour more of daylight, but it also seems to mess with your internal body clock so that your body never properly readjusts. In fact, daylight savings time may significantly affect your sleep cycle, which thus has other effects on your mind and body. In general, the time change in the spring is harder to adjust to than the one in fall as the clocks are going forward an hour and thus everyone is losing instead of gaining sleep. This change can do more than just mess with your sleep cycle; it can also majorly impact your appetite, heart, mood, and even motor skills. Let’s take a look at how daylight savings time has an effect on your sleep cycles.


Why Daylight Savings Time Impacts Sleep Cycles


When the clocks are changed for daylight savings time, sun time does not get altered. Humans have a biological clock that cannot be tricked into getting an hour less of sleep and the purely fabricated change of time cannot bypass our internal clock. The body’s internal clock goes by the sun and shifts depending on the location that you live. Researchers have found that the circadian clock actually shifts in intervals of four minutes, which is the length of time it takes the sun to move across one longitude line. During winter, human sleep naturally aligns with the dawn. However, this is interrupted when daylight savings time occurs in March.


Adjusting to Spring Forward


For both night owls and morning birds alike, peak and sleep activity tends to adjust quickly when daylight savings time comes to an end in the fall. However, the same cannot be said for daylight savings time in the spring. This is especially the case for those who tend to stay up late and wake up late. If daylight savings time did not exist, peoples’ sleep cycle would simply adjust to dawn in the summer and then again in the autumn, but this is interrupted by daylight savings time.


Mood and Productivity Can Be Impacted


Your disrupted sleep cycle may cause you to feel restless at night and then sleepy throughout the day. On average, we lose 40 minutes of sleep when the clocks are set forward in spring. This sleep disturbance can cause you to feel both irritable and moody. Studies show when people lose sleep, their amygdala (the brain’s emotional center) becomes more reactive compared to those who get a full night’s rest. Besides this, losing sleep can also affect your performance, concentration levels, and memory.


How to Combat the Ill Affects of Daylight Savings Time


To fight the harmful affects that the time change has on your sleep cycle and general health, it is recommended that you sleep in on Sunday morning and then take a short nap during that afternoon. The majority of adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to feel fully rested. Try leaving several hours between dinner and going to bed. Also, put away your mobile devices before getting into bed as the screen brightness can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep, as well as your sleep quality. Additionally, sleep experts recommended that you make your bedroom all about getting a good night’s rest. To do this, use comfortable bedding, pillows, and mattress. If you have a hard time falling asleep after the time change then try implementing a bedtime schedule such as stretching or deep breathing to get yourself in the right mood to fall asleep.