Enjoy Long Days During Summer – How Daylight Affects Our Sleep and Productivity
You have long known that in most states around the nation, you will spring forward and fall back. Daylight savings time is something that the U.S. has been engaging in since World War I, and is practiced in 70 countries around the world. However, you may not be so clear on why it is that you change the clocks, and what impact it might have on your sleep and productivity.
The idea behind daylight savings time goes back to Benjamin Franklin. He believed that we could conserve energy by making the most use of our natural daylight time. We would use less energy having the lights on, for example, although back then he didn’t account for the fact that we would someday use additional heat and air conditioning that would help to offset that savings. Additionally, there are other benefits that are typically cited as for reasons why daylight savings is done, including that it puts less people driving at night, thus reducing auto accidents.
Although there may be societal benefits to daylight savings time, there are some affects that it can take to on one's body, particularly when it comes to sleep habits. When people have their sleep patterns disturbed it can lead to headaches, a loss of productivity, and an increase in stress. In fact, research has found that during the first week following "spring ahead", there is an increase in heart attacks due to the impact light changes have on sleep patterns.
Here are a few things you can do to try minimize the impact it has on your sleep pattern:
- Prepare ahead of time. When you know that daylight savings time is just around the corner, start planning ahead, so that it doesn’t impact your sleep quite as much. Adjust your bedtime by 30 minutes for the week leading up to it, so that it minimizes the impact.
- Get into a routine. Having a bedtime routine is important all year round. Find a bedtime that works for you, so that you get adequate sleep, and then a routine that helps put you to sleep. Some people opt for taking a hot bath before bed, others read to help them fall asleep. The key is to have a consistent routine.
- Get the lights on. When the alarm goes off in the morning, don’t hit the snooze button. It’s also important to get the lights on, which will help tell your brain that it’s time to get up and get moving.
- Exercise regularly. The benefits of exercise are plentiful, including releasing serotonin that will assist your brain in phase-advancing your internal clock. Just one more good reason to exercise.
- Adjust eating times. In order to make it easier to fall asleep, you may want to consider moving your evening meal up so you eat earlier. Also, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening will help your sleep pattern.
Unless you live in one of the few places in the U.S. that doesn’t observe daylight saving, your sleep is going to be impacted by "springing forward" and "falling back"; but taking these measures above can help to minimize the impact that it has on your sleep pattern, and ultimately on your productivity as well.