As we all prepare to “Spring Forward” this March, most of are looking forward to longer days as warmer days approach.
In all honesty though, this is one of the worst things you can do for your sleep cycle.
Jumping forward just one hour can take weeks for our bodies to re-adjust.
Below I will dig into how the time change impacts our body-clocks and how you can combat this.
Keeping the Rhythm
Human beings have a sleep cycle that is inherently tied to the 24-hour day.
Our bodies gravitate toward sleep when the sun goes down and gravitate toward waking during the sunrise.
This cycle is known as our the circadian rhythm.
While we obviously don’t adhere to only being awake during the daytime and only sleeping at night time, our unconscious brain is attuned to this daily cycle.
Changing this cycle (even by one hour) can impact how your body functions.
Looking to sleep better? Download our FREE Sleep Diary!
What is Daylight Saving Time Doing to Us?
Daylight Saving Time (DST) introduces an artificial interruption into our daily circadian rhythm by having us change our sleep cycles twice a year.
Scientists are just now starting to understand how this interruption impacts us.
This time-shift change is similar to jet lag, and can lead to grogginess, problems maintaining attention and alertness throughout the day, and other effects.
This can disrupt your ability to get deep, REM sleep as well.
How Can You Combat Daylight Saving?
There are ways to mitigate its effects on your sleep, mainly through melatonin.
First, it’s important to understand what melatonin is, and what its relationship is with the circadian sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the Pineal gland located deep inside our brains.
In normal circumstances, melatonin is secreted into our bloodstreams as the night approaches - usually around two hours before your bedtime - and peaks around 3-4 a.m. in a standard sleep cycle.
The function of melatonin appears to be diverse, acting as the “darkness” hormone, and in a sense ‘triggering’ or ‘synchronizing’ the necessary functions in the brain that tell the body to sleep.
The disruption caused by the DST on our normal circadian rhythm, especially during our ‘spring forward’ transition, means we have trouble falling asleep, and once asleep, often can’t stay asleep, or sleep soundly.
Natural solutions can include introducing supplemental melatonin into your diet prior to bedtime.
Another solution is to slowly move your bedtime in 10 minute increments starting a week before Daylight Saving Time.
You can also check out our free sleep diary with tips on how to get a perfect night of sleep, you can download it here.