Did you have trouble getting out of bed this morning, two days after Daylight Savings Time? I know I did! Even with only a 1-hour time change, most people are thrown off by the lost hour of sleep and feel more irritable and stressed than usual. According to a survey by the Better Sleep Council of over 1,000 adults, 40% state that they need at least a full week to feel normal once again. The good news is that there are ways that you can help your body get back to normal!
Sleep Deprivation… Not Good
Lack of sleep is bad for your health. According to Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and professor and director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, on the day after Daylight Savings Time there’s a 6-17% increase in motor vehicle crashes on the nation’s highways, a 17% increase in fatal crashes and alcohol-related fatalities, and a 5% increase in heart attacks during the week after Daylight Savings Time. YIKES! Since one third of American workers already don’t get enough sleep, it’s vital that you get your sleep back on track as quickly as possible!
Get Back on Track After Daylight Savings Time
1. Use sunlight to ‘retrain’ your circadian clock and help you get back on your sleep/wake schedule. Daylight exposure helps regulate melatonin that the body naturally produces. When you’re exposed to daylight early in the day, the release of melatonin is suppressed. As the sun goes down, melatonin is released. Since daylight controls the sleep cycle, try to spend at least one hour outside in the sun.
2. Take a melatonin supplement (1 to 3 milligrams) one hour before bedtime to help ease the time change. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid to late evening hours, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.
Light affects how much melatonin your body produces. Artificial time changes, such as Daylight Savings Time and traveling (jet lag)—can throw the natural melatonin triggers off balance. Taking supplemental melatonin can put you back on track.