‘Fall back’ into old habits: How to adjust to the jet lag of daylight savings
The evidence shows time changes are associated with an increase in the number of car accidents and heart attacks.
It turns out that our twice-annual daylight savings time shift can come with significant consequences in an already sleep-deprived population. After all, only 35% of adults report getting the recommended eight hours or more of sleep each night, according to a published study.
Worse, the evidence shows time changes are associated with an increase in the number of car accidents and heart attacks.
The first few days after the time change often leaves Australians feeling groggy and jet-lagged without any of the bragging rights from a fabulous overseas holiday. And since immune systems experience a dip at the same time, people are more likely to catch whatever flu or cold might be going around.
The good news is that there are a few small habit changes that can make up for the disruption to your sleep cycles. Cheryl The Sleep Coach offers evidence-based tips on how to get back to a regular, restful sleep schedule during the daylight savings shift.
Cheryl says, “It can take as much as a week to adjust, so I advise my clients to be patient and disciplined as they adjust the hands on their household clocks.”
Because caffeine increases sleep fragmentation, cutting back on your overall caffeine consumption is a smart move. If you can’t give up your morning coffee, then try to at least avoid caffeine afternoon for a couple of days leading up to the time shift.
Disconnect the screens
Blue light from electronic screens, including smartphones and TVs, has been found to reduce the body’s evening production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that tells the brain its bedtime. Instead, the blue light tricks the body into thinking that there is still daylight left. So to get your body to unwind appropriately, you’ll need to turn off all screens after dinner and possibly go to bed earlier. For the days before and after the time shift, opt for a paper book, a conversation or a new quiet hobby.
Avoid the sneaky nap
Fingleson also advises against taking daytime naps. “In that awkward daylight-savings adjustment period, taking naps may actually leave you more disoriented,” she adds. She advises clients to do their best to stay awake until their normal bedtime.
Turn your bedroom into your sanctuary
Daylight savings or not, its always a good idea to pay attention to your sleep environment. A tidy bedroom is more conducive to relaxation, a bed that has been well-made will be more comfortable, and the lack of piles of laundry or clutter will release your mind from the anxiety of your looming to-do list.
Cheryl Fingleson’s final tips to tired clients adjusting to daylight savings is to pay attention to healthy and regular meals. “There are many great ways to encourage your body to relax and re-set,” she says. “Healthy, regular meals are a great balancer.
Many people use the daylight savings shift as a reminder to change the batteries on their smoke alarms. Cheryl Fingleson suggests it’s a great opportunity to embrace a new personal habit as well and to embrace the life-changing benefits of meditation. She advises clients to try adding a 10-minute wind-down routine before bedtime in order to calm the nervous system. There are plenty of free resources available online to learn this for the first time.
Seek help if you need it
However, if clients are having more long-term problems, it’s best not to rely on medication like sleeping pills to return to regular sleep patterns, as there might be other factors in play. If after a week or two of persistent effort you still haven’t reclaimed your healthy sleep cycles, you should consult a doctor.
Cheryl Fingleson advises all her clients to take charge of their wellness and embrace good sleep habits as part of the daylight savings shift. By employing just a few of the above techniques, clients will notice a big change in their sleep quality and they should return to regular work and school patterns quite quickly.