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    Better sleep and breathing blog

    Daylight Saving's Impact on Circadian Rhythms


    Daylight Savings Time begins in March and ends in November. Unfortunately, whenever the time changes you'll also notice that your sleep is disrupted more. Whether you have to "fall back" or "spring forward," adjusting to Daylight Savings changes isn't always easy. Here's a look at why it can be tough and how to help ease that transition, improving sleep quality.

    Daylight Savings and the Circadian Rhythm


    In March, most people have to "spring forward" and lose an hour of sleep. In November, they "fall back" and gain an hour of sleep. Until you adjust, losing an hour of sleep in the spring can cause irritability, fatigue, and loss of concentration. But even though springing forward is typically toughest, falling back can mess up your circadian rhythm too.


    The circadian rhythm is your built-in 24-hour clock that tells your body when it's time to be sleepy and when it's time to wake up. It typically responds to the sun, which is why it's better to stay away from bright screens closer to bed time. Some studies have shown that both morning people and night owls adjust better to "falling back" in the fall, but never truly adjust in the spring. Night owls have it the worst.


    Shifting your sleep cycle an hour forward or back can disrupt your body's natural cycle, leading to symptoms similar to jet lag. It can take one to three days of adjustment, sometimes more. And even though "falling back" is easier, it's not painless. You might notice that it's tougher to wait until your lunch break to eat, or you might have difficulty concentrating at the end of the workday. Some people struggle to stay up at night.

    How To Ease Into Daylight Savings Changes


    You can plan in advance to help ease your transition and enhance your sleep quality. First, try to make sure you're not already sleep deprived when the time change happens. Sleep-deprived people have a tougher time adjusting. For the spring, consider having an alarm clock with a light that gently shines brighter to help wake you up, simulating the sunrise. You'll also want night lights in the bathroom so you're not accosted by bright lights in the middle of the night.

     

    Practice good sleep hygiene. This means avoiding alcohol or caffeine at night and having calming rituals before you go to bed, like taking a hot bath, enjoying a cup of decaffeinated tea, turning down the lights, or listening to a sleep podcast. Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. You might even need to wear eye masks or ear plugs.


    Just before the time shift, avoid taking long naps that can throw off your cycle. Go to bed a little early in the spring, perhaps 15 to 20 minutes early a few nights in a row before the time change. In the fall, you might even adjust your lunch and dinner times to be a little later a few days before the shift.


    Remember: feeling exhausted after consistently getting eight hours of sleep a night isn't normal. If the fatigue just doesn't ease up soon after a Daylight Savings shift, consider visiting your doctor and getting a sleep study. Sometimes sleep issues like sleep apnea can cause you to feel fatigued during the day even after a full night's rest.

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    Disclaimer

     

    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor and is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. Philips disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.