The arrival of Daylight Savings Time may feel like spring is finally starting, but it has a downside. Setting your clock forward—and losing one hour—isn’t just inconvenient. It can impact your sleep, and therefore your health.
According to Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, research shows that the spring time change can cause:
- Increased driving accidents
- Increased workplace accidents
- Lower school performance
- A small increase in heart attacks
“We tend to just say ‘Oh, I can handle it,’ but losing sleep like this is not something to be taken lightly,” said Dr. Chandra. “Problems from the time change come from disrupting your sleep-wake cycle, more than from gaining or losing an hour.”
Sleep problems related to the time change can last up to a week. Everyone has trouble adjusting, but particularly people who normally sleep less and wake up early, according to Dr. Chandra.
Here’s how you can prepare for and adjust to the change:
- The week before the time changes, go to bed 15 minutes early, if you can, especially on the night of the change.
- The morning the clocks change, sleep in for an extra half hour if possible. Go out into the sunlight that morning as soon as you can. It will help reset your body’s clock.
- The week after the time change, get regular exercise and go to bed and wake up on a schedule. It can take up to a week to get used to, so be patient.
For more information about coping with Daylight Savings Time and other sleep-related issues, visit SleepForHealth.org, or follow the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders on Facebook or Twitter (@AdvancedSleep).
Anuj Chandra, M.D., D.ABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic equipped with the latest sleep testing equipment and with locations in Chattanooga, Cleveland, and North Georgia. In 2010, Dr. Chandra became “double boarded” after receiving his second board certification in sleep medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chandra has served as part of the international teaching faculty of the National Sleep Medicine Course, a physician education initiative to bring cutting edge sleep medicine training to India.