Daylight saving time and sleep health

Daylight saving time and sleep health

Daylight saving time will begin Sunday, March 14 at 2 a.m.


Daylight saving time in Ohio will begin March 14 at 2 a.m.

Wooster Community Hospital has furnished the following Q-and-A on DST and sleep health:

Q: What is daylight saving time and how can it impact our sleep?

A: The U.S. has officially observed daylight saving time since 1966. To “save” natural light, we spring forward, setting our clocks ahead one hour each March.

You might not think losing just one hour of sleep is a big deal, but sleep deprivation contributes to higher rates of obesity, mood disorders, greater risks of suicide and serious accidents.

Our circadian rhythm is how our body regulates being awake and asleep. It must be synchronized with natural light and dark cycles in order to ensure healthy, high-quality sleep. The time change can delay our sleep-wake cycle, making us feel tired in the morning and alert in the evening. This misalignment can contribute to significant sleep loss over time and can become a chronic, long-term condition.

Q: Is there anything we can do to improve our sleep during the time change?

A: Yes, during the week before the time change, sleep experts recommend waking up 15-20 minutes earlier over several days, allowing yourself to adjust to a 15-20 minutes earlier wake time gradually instead of the entire hour in one day.

Try to prioritize at least 30 minutes of exposure to bright, natural light throughout your day to help reduce daytime sleepiness and improve your nighttime sleep quality.

Because natural light is what drives our circadian rhythm, spending time outdoors during the day, especially first thing in the morning, can help to regulate the hormone melatonin that causes sleepiness and is triggered for release in the absence of natural light.

For this same reason, you should try to avoid artificial light from electronics once the sun has gone down. Help your body prepare for sleep by dimming the lights inside, using blue-light filters on electronic devices, and enjoying a bedtime routine that is relaxing and device free.

And as always, you can practice good sleep hygiene by maintaining a consistent bed time and wake time each day including days off work while giving yourself at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Q: Is it OK to take a nap to help adjust to the time change?

A: You can take a short nap during the day, but this should not exceed 20 minutes. Otherwise, you may feel groggy and sleepier than you did before you napped. Pay close attention to how you feel after the nap as some people are negatively impacted and are unable to go to sleep at their normal bedtime even after just a short nap. If that is the case, napping may not be right for you.

If you have questions about your sleep, call 330-263-8400 and select option one.

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