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How time changes affect your sleep

BY Martin Seeley

24th Mar 2023 Wellbeing

How time changes affect your sleep

With Daylight Saving Time fast approaching, sleep expert Martin Seeley reveals how time changes affect our sleep, and how to prepare for DST

On Sunday, March 26, the clocks will move forward by an hour, otherwise known as Daylight Saving Time. Here, Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of MattressNextDay reveals how time changes affect our sleep, and how we can best prepare for DST.

What is Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a system used to make better use of the longer daylight hours during the summer months.

"The goal of DST is to reduce electricity usage by taking advantage of the longer periods of natural daylight"

The idea is to shift the clocks forward by one hour in the spring and then back again by one hour in the fall, giving people more daylight hours during their waking hours. The primary goal of DST is to reduce electricity usage by taking advantage of the longer periods of natural daylight.

How do time changes affect our sleep?

How time changes affect your sleep - Daylight saving time change, spring forwardCredit: BrianAJackson

Time changes can have a significant impact on sleep patterns, particularly for the spring Daylight Saving Time (DST) shift when clocks are moved forward by one hour. The shift to DST can disrupt sleep patterns for several days as the body adjusts to the new time schedule.

This is because the body's internal clock, which regulates sleep-wake cycles, is tied to daylight and darkness. When the time changes, it can take several days for the body to adjust to the new schedule.

"The shift to DST can disrupt sleep patterns for several days as the body adjusts to the new time schedule"

Research has shown that the spring DST shift, in particular, can lead to an increase in sleep disturbances, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. This is because people lose an hour of sleep, which can throw off their sleep cycle and lead to difficulty falling asleep or waking up earlier than usual.

How can we best prepare for DST?

How time changes affect your sleep - asian woman sleeping well with smile at nightCredit: RyanKing999

Preparing for Daylight Saving Time (DST) can help minimise the impact of the time change on your sleep and overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you prepare for DST:

Gradually adjust your sleep schedule: Start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before the time changes by going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier each day. This can help your body adjust to the new schedule more smoothly.

Maintain a consistent sleep routine: Stick to a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This can help regulate your body's internal clock and promote better sleep.

Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep quality, so limit your intake in the days leading up to the time change.

Avoid electronics before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with the body's production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Avoid using electronics before bed or use blue-light-blocking glasses if you must use them.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that can help signal to your body that it's time to sleep. This can include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

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