It is that time of year again when we all "Spring ahead" into action and the powers that be grant us the pleasure of "losing" an hour of sleep each morning. It happens in the middle of the night once a year, and can affect you for several days. It's the return of Daylight Saving Time (DST), which happens this year at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 13 for most of the nation.
This ritual can cause disruptions in normal sleep patterns for children and adults. However, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says there are steps you can take to minimize the sleep loss and enjoy the benefits of healthy sleep and productive days.
Richard Gelula, NSF's executive director comments:
"Too many people will sacrifice yet another hour of sleep when the clocks change - an hour they cannot afford to lose, particularly on the weekend, when people try to catch up on the sleep they missed during the week."
By making a few simple lifestyle changes, most people can achieve the sleep that is needed to feel alert, refreshed and ready to take on the day. These steps can help your own transition into Daylight Saving Time:
- Reset all your clocks on the Saturday before the switch. (Remember the digital clocks in the kitchen and your car.) Many computers automatically adjust to daylight-saving time, but make a note to check.
- Get a full night's sleep during the switch.
- Plan on your conventional time for rising on the first day of daylight-saving time.
- If you've already set your clock ahead by Saturday evening, following your conventional bedtime will ensure you get a full night of sleep. In any event, get a full night's sleep by adjusting the time you hit the pillow.
- Resist the temptation to catch a nap in the middle of the day on Sunday.
- Go to bed on Sunday at your conventional bedtime.
All of us have an "internal clock" that is governed by our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that determines our sleep and wake periods, as well as other biological mechanisms. The first day of daylight-saving time realigns how we synch our mechanical clocks with our circadian rhythm.
A poll conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings and can do more in the evenings."
In the U.S., 2:00 a.m. was originally chosen as the changeover time because it was practical and minimized disruption. Most people were at home and this was the time when the fewest trains were running. It is late enough to minimally affect bars and restaurants, and it prevents the day from switching to yesterday, which would be confusing. It is early enough that the entire continental U.S. switches by daybreak, and the changeover occurs before most early shift workers and early churchgoers are affected.
The good news is that most people adjust to daylight saving time in a day or two. If it is an issue, look on the bright side knowing that the switch to "Fall back" is likely to be much easier.
For a fun, detailed history of Daylight Saving Time, click HERE.
Source: The National Sleep Foundation
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.