Mar 05, 2019 12:00 AM

No one looks forward to the start of daylight savings time. The loss of a single hour of sleep makes everyone grumpy and throws off our internal clocks for what feels like weeks. But how much of an impact does one hour really have on us? Turns out, more than you may realize. “Around the start of daylight savings time there is an increase in motor vehicle accidents, and there is an increase in heart attacks and strokes,” said Kelly Baron, PhD, MPH, DBSM, a sleep specialist with University of Utah Health. “It has an impact on the population's health from this loss of sleep.”

The fact the time change happens on a weekend may exacerbate the impacts of the loss of the hour. You may think it’s a good thing you can sleep in to try and make it up, but that may just make things worse. Instead, you should try to prepare for the time change in the days leading up to it by adjusting your sleep schedule by ten or fifteen minutes every day. Then by the time you “spring ahead” an hour you are already on track.

“Your body in general can't shift earlier one hour at a time. It does take a few days. Shift it over two or three days,” said Baron. “And also avoid sleeping in too much over the weekend because then you don't have to work as hard to get back on the new schedule.”

Parents have the added task of getting kids used to the time change. Daylight savings time is especially hard on teenagers who may already be struggling to get the amount of sleep they need. While you are pre-shifting your sleep schedule it’s a good idea to shift theirs as well. “Children and adolescents need more sleep than adults,” said Baron. “You hear a lot of comments, questions, and complaints from parents during this time.”

Since daylight savings time will have you thinking about sleep anyway this is a great time to assess your overall sleep health. Do you know how many hours of sleep you are getting at night? Have you thought about your sleep quality? What changes could you make to improve your sleep? “It's just a general reminder that even losing as little as one hour of sleep can have an impact on your health,” said Baron. “On the flip side of that is increasing your sleep by as little 30 minutes can make an improvement on your health and quality of life. It's a good reminder of how much even a small amount of sleep can impact your health.”

sleep daylight savings time

comments powered by Disqus