Daylight Savings Time: ruining our sleep schedules since 1918. Yes, it’s that dreary time of year again; the time we all lose an hour of sleep. Daylight Savings Time kicks in this weekend on Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 2:00 a.m. So, despite “spring forward” sounding cheery, start preparing now for grumpy co-workers, bitter they’re stuck feeling fatigued. There’s nothing we love more than turning our clocks forward one full hour.
And believe it or not, the ancient tradition of day light savings time is actually dangerous. For those of you unfamiliar, during daylight saving time we move our clocks an hour ahead. As a result, the effects of daylight saving time is that we sleep an hour less. Researchers at the Sleep Program at Loyola University Health System said on average people sleep about 40 minutes less than normal. Other research shows there's a higher risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries on the first Monday of Daylight Saving Time.
Driving to work in the dark - You are now driving to work an hour earlier. Guess what? The earlier you drive, the darker it is outside. Drowsy driving in the morning is only exacerbated by a darker outside. Those of you who have gotten used to a brighter setting and commute need to be warned to be more alert on the road as you might find yourself fighting harder than usual to stay awake on your morning commute.
Caffeine-When you "spring Forward", do not drink any caffeine in excess of your morning cup. Caffeine is a stimulant many of us need to get through the day, however overuse can prevent you from following your sleep schedule. In addition, there’s a common misconception out there that alcohol helps you fall asleep. Now it may come off that way, but alcohol actually messes up your sleep-wave and leads to a lower quality of sleeping; therefore, you’re not going to be nearly as alert in the morning.
Finally, to get quality sleep all the time - "unplug" and hour to two hours before you go to sleep. Turn of the computer, the television, put your phone on the vibrate or turn the ringer low in you still have a land line. Unplug from the internet, dim the lights in your house and go to a quiet place, prepare yourself for sleep.
Other helpful tips for the Loyola researchers offer tips for helping make the time change:
- In the days before the time change, go to bed and wake up 10 or 15 minutes earlier each day.
- Don't nap on the Saturday before the time change.
- To help reset your internal body clock, expose yourself to sunlight in the morning as early as you can.