Article by Alison Gwinn, AARP, Updated March 12, 2021
Are you ready for DST? If you’re not, you have lots of company. Daylight Saving Time sort of sneaks up on us and catches us bleary-eyed on the Monday morning after the Sunday night when we tell our clocks to “spring forward.” Feeling “off” is a common response to playing havoc with our internal clocks. Here is a great article from AARP to help you through the time change.
“It’s just one hour, folks. But, boy, that yearly switch to daylight saving time (DST) — happening this Sunday, March 14 — can really mess with our bodies and our heads, something those already struggling with pandemic-related sleep issues may especially dread.
“The disruption in our circadian rhythms — the wake and sleep cycles managed by our body clock and its release of hormones — goes beyond making us just feel tired the day we lose an hour of sleep. Studies have shown that during the week after the annual spring forward, we Americans have more fatal car accidents, heart attacks and atrial fibrillations; may have an uptick in strokes; are more likely to get harsher legal sentences; and even cyber-loaf more in the office.
“Daylight saving time can affect your mood, your overall alertness, your memory and your ability to overall comprehend appropriately,” says Rachel Ziegler, a sleep-medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic Health System. “It’s the most difficult to adjust to for those who are already sleep-deprived or those who already have poor sleep habits.”
“But if you’re an older adult without sleep issues, DST can actually lead to a sleep-and-wake cycle that better matches your “mature” circadian rhythms. “As people get older their circadian rhythms tend to advance — meaning that people go to bed early and wake up early — and springing forward tends to help those people,” says Michelle Drerup, M.D., a sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
“Whatever side of the change you’re on — nonplussed early bird or die-hard time-change resister — here are seven ways to combat the annoying, and potentially harmful, effects of DST.”
1. Adjust your bedtime the week before.
2. On Saturday try to wear yourself out a bit.
3. Shut off your electronic devices early.
4. Follow your normal bedtime routine.
5. Try to force yourself awake on time on Sunday — and get outside.
6. If necessary, take a (short!) power nap on Sunday.
7. Don’t slack off on Sunday night.
These are only the headlines. For the rest of the story on how to minimize the disruption to your sleep click here!