It’s that time of the year again. Our clocks go back an hour, as daylight saving begins, and the summer sun gets ready for the season.
But, for many, it also means losing an hour of sleep, especially school-going children and those with demanding jobs or sleep problems.
Dr. Kendra Becker, a sleep medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente, says preparing your body for the time change will help you to better cope with the time change, as the effects on your sleep cycle could have dangerous consequences unless you take certain steps to minimize the impact.
“This temporary loss of sleep can increase your tiredness, worsen your performance of tasks, and studies have shown it could also increase your risk of heart attacks and car accidents,” she cautioned. “Children affected by sleep deprivation also have a harder time in school and potentially worsened behavior.”
Becker suggests a pragmatic approach. She recommends you expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. This will help your brain secrete melatonin naturally and earlier in the evening to help with the shifting of your body’s internal clock.
And, she suggested, practice good sleep hygiene: avoid electronics, late snacks, caffeine and alcohol before going to bed.
“Losing an hour of sleep may be challenging for many in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be hard,” Becker said. “It’s all about embracing the change and taking steps to minimize the impact. After all, we don’t have a choice. The time change will take place whether we want it to or not, so from a health standpoint, we need to adjust and embrace it.”