Each year, on the first Sunday of November, Ontarians turn their clocks back one hour. This year, daylight savings will be on November 4th. Some welcome the time change, while others dread it. Those who anticipate it might be grateful to get an extra hour of sleep over the weekend, but they don’t realize that this seemingly small change can have a substantial effect on one’s sleep cycle.
The circadian rhythm is what regulates your sleep/wake cycle. It takes cues from the environment to ensure that you are getting enough sleep. In ancient times, this worked, but today’s artificial lighting and high levels of screen use cause us to unintentionally manipulate this cycle. When a time change occurs, we are throwing off our body’s rhythm––even if it’s an artificial one––by a full hour.
One Extra Hour of Sleep or a Week of Wakefulness?
Many people experience fatigue, reduced productivity, and an inability to concentrate during the week that follows the time change. Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University conducted a study on how this time change affects us. Many participants woke up earlier, had a harder time falling asleep, and woke up during the night.
While we do gain an extra hour of night time, it seems that most of us actually lose sleep as a result of the time change. However, we still need to show up to work, appointments, and social events on time, so most of us feel that we “just have to deal with it.” However, there are some ways that you can help your body to cope with the change in routine!
How to Adjust to the Time Change
Any alteration to one’s daily life can be a shock! You can prepare beforehand and arm yourself with strategies to deal with the switch.
- Snack on pumpkin seeds! There’s no shortage of pumpkin-related products during the fall time, but these seeds contain both tryptophan and magnesium. These both help to lower stress and promote better sleep. Make sure not to snack too close to bedtime, though.
- Adopt a consistent bedtime routine. If you follow a similar order of healthy habits and activities during the time leading up to falling asleep, you will help to “train” your brain so that it recognizes when it’s time to get tired.
- Sleep with the curtains open or turn on bright lights right when you wake up. Your body is built to take cues from the natural light in the environment, so being in a well-lit space will trick your brain into thinking that it’s time to be awake!
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Make sure to avoid screens during the hour or so leading up to bedtime, and if you are using a screen, to switch it to night mode. Additionally, survey your bedroom and bed and make sure that they’re conducive to a good night’s sleep!
If you notice that you are having difficulty sleeping because of the time change, or if you have any other questions about how to get a better night’s sleep, we are here to help. Schedule your appointment at MHHC Sleep Solutions today!