March 10th, 2017
On Sunday, March 12, many of us will set our clocks forward one hour and lose an hour of sleep as we move to Daylight Savings Time (DST). It’s a small price to pay for the wonderful pleasure of having more daylight hours in our lives. But it’s important to note that even a one-hour change to your sleep schedule can affect you physically and mentally. And it can take up to a week to adjust your sleep pattern to a one-hour time change.
Errors and accidents often come from lack of sleep. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who’d gotten only five to six hours of sleep had a crash risk almost twice as high as those who’d had seven or more hours of sleep. The National Institutes of Health even determined that crashes increase on the particular Sundays in spring and fall when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends. Doing with less sleep can be dangerous and costly at work, too—Harvard Medical School researchers discovered that lack of sleep causes hundreds of thousands of workplace accidents and errors every year in North America.
Here are some tips on adjusting to the time change:
Nudge your sleep schedule back. A week or two before the “spring ahead” time change, try to go to sleep and wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day. This will help your mind and body adjust to the abrupt time change when it comes.
Expose yourself to sunlight. As soon as you wake up, and also during the day, get as much sunlight or other bright light as you can. This will help your body reset its internal clock.
Avoid napping. If you’re lucky enough to be able to take brief afternoon naps, skip them for a few days before the time change. Though napping has some health benefits, when you’re adjusting to a time change, naps can make it harder to sleep at night. Read Napping Tips to Improve Focus and Performance for some practical tips.
Practice nighttime relaxation habits. Create a before-bed ritual that helps you relax before going to sleep. This might include taking a warm shower, reading a non-suspenseful book, or meditating. Stay away from screens (TV, computer, tablet, and smartphone) right before bed. Devices emit blue light which stimulates the brain, and can make it difficult to fall asleep.
As everyone adjusts to the time change, although it is always important no matter what time of year, don’t drive distracted. Turn the radio down, drink your coffee at home or the office, don’t take your snack or breakfast to go and save the call (even if it’s hands-free) for later. Oh and put your sunglasses in your car!
This article was written with excepts from Lifeworks, employee assistance and wellness experts and InsuranceHotline.com