Centre for Sleep Press Release: Switching Clocks Can Wreak Havoc on Our Sleep Patterns
This Sunday, March 10, at 2 am, clocks will be set forward one hour to mark the beginning of Daylight Saving, and providing us with an extra hour of daylight in the evening. This is great for all of those spring activities that are just around the corner, but not so great for the impact this has on our sleep. Losing an hour of sleep will be particularly tough if you are heading into this weekend already sleep deprived. So why does setting our clocks back impact us, and what can we do about it?
Daylight Saving Time isn't just about losing an hour of sleep when we switch our clocks back. Put simply, changing the time disrupts our body clocks. We all have a 24-hour internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and wakefulness at regular intervals called the circadian rhythm. Natural factors within the body regulate circadian rhythms; however, signals from the environment also affect them. The main cue influencing circadian rhythms is daylight. So, when the external cues suddenly don't line up with our own internal schedules our circadian rhythms will be disrupted. Not only does our circadian rhythm influence our sleep-wake cycles, but also eating habits, core body temperature and metabolism, among other things.
So, what can you do to adapt more quickly?
- Adjust your bedtime and wake-time by a little each day before the time change, so that it's a more gradual change
- Avoid alcohol several hours before bed
- Have a regular bedtime ritual
- Expose yourself to bright lights on Sunday morning