By Robin Brodrick
Daylight Saving Time
Daylight saving time is less than two weeks away. On Sunday, March 8th, 2015, most Americans will be setting their clocks forward an hour and cringing at the thought of losing that precious bit of sleep.
Why You Feel Worse During Daylight Saving Time
Your circadian rhythms are ruled by dawn and dusk, not by the clock on your phone. According to research conducted at Ludwig-Maximilians-Univeristy in Munich, Germany, a person's internal clock naturally adjusts in four minute intervals, which is how long it takes the sun to cross one longitudinal line. As such, our bodies are ill-equipped to cope with the drastic one-hour change and never adjust to daylight saving time.
Negative Effects Of Daylight Saving Time
People report a variety of short and long term negative effects caused by daylight saving time. Some of them include:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Sleep deprivation
- Higher stress levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased number of suicides (View the study here.)
- Increased number of heart attacks (This is likely caused by sleep deprivation and its adverse effect on the cardiovascular system. View the study here.)
How You Can Outsmart Daylight Saving Time
The best way to combat the negative effects of daylight saving time is to expose yourself to light as soon as possible after you wake up. This cues your body to stop secreting melatonin. Light that mimics natural sunlight is the most effective. For just under $40, you can pick up a Verilux HappyLight 2500 and give yourself the gift of unlimited natural light exposure in your own home.
Another option is to ask if you can work different hours. If you normally work 9 to 5, ask if you can work 10 to 6. This way your body will not have to adjust to a new schedule. Many companies offer flexible working hours, such as Veristat, Qualcomm, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
You should also practice good sleep hygiene to stave off the side effects of daylight saving time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, good sleep habits include:
- Don't nap during the day
- Only use your bed for sleep
- Refrain thinking about your problems in bed
- Maintain a bedtime routine
- Do vigorous exercise in the mornings or late afternoon or relaxing exercise before bed
- Avoid large meals, spicy foods, and chocolate close to bedtime
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine close to bedtime
- And, of course, expose yourself to an adequate amount of natural light