If you find yourself feeling more fatigued after springing your clocks forward this past weekend, you’re not alone. This is because DST can cause a disruption to your circadian rhythm – your body’s internal clock that is responsible for cycling between your sleep-wake cycle, which is what causes you to feel fatigued or alert.
While adjusting the time forward by just one hour might not seem like a big deal, the average person actually gets 40-minutes less sleep than they usually would in comparison to other times of the year. Therefore, your body may feel as though it is being forced to follow a sleep schedule that is unnatural to what it’s used to, and this is what causes you to feel more sluggish.
Along with increased fatigue (with some individuals even experiencing insomnia), health experts have also noticed an uptick in other trends that commonly occur along with Daylight Saving Time, such as heart problems, mood disorders, as well as an increase in motor vehicle accidents.
If you’re finding yourself impacted by the time change, there are certain things you can do to better prepare yourself leading up to DST and even after, such as:
PRACTICING GOOD SLEEP HABITS. Following good sleep hygiene is important for your overall health and wellbeing. This not only means establishing a sleep routine where you’re going to bed and getting up at the same time each morning (being sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night), but you should also refrain from computer, cell phone use or TV-watching late at night. By not getting enough sleep, this can actually have a negative impact on your health in a variety of different ways.
TAKING SHORT NAPS. If you’re someone who experiences sleep deprivation because of DST, you may find it beneficial to take a nap during the day, However, it’s recommended that a nap should not exceed 20-minutes, as the longer you nap the groggier you may wake up feeling.
HEALTHY EATING HABITS. What you eat and when you eat it can have an impact on how well you do – or don’t – sleep. For example, caffeine. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, and if you drink it too late into the afternoon or evening you might find yourself tossing and turning in bed all night. Things like chocolate and energy drinks can also keep you awake, as can eating heavier meals, so these are all things you want to be mindful of. Foods that can assist in providing you with a better night’s sleep include almonds, walnuts, and fatty fish – or you may want to try warm milk or chamomile tea. For more healthy eating tips, click here.