Daylight Saving Time ends on November 4th, meaning it’s almost time to change the clocks again. Pushing the clock to fall back can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle, even when you gain an extra hour. Fortunately, with the right tips and preparation, you can still catch some much-needed Z’s, no matter what the clock says.
The History of DST: Why Do We Do This Again?
Benjamin Franklin, a man ahead of his time in many ways, usually gets credit for the idea because of an article he wrote about candles being wasted in Paris. The thing is, it was supposed to be a joke. He suggested that Parisians (who were known for sleeping late) could save candles if they just woke up earlier and went to bed earlier, thus enjoying more (free) sunlight.
Franklin’s 18th century joke became a reality in the 20th century. In 1918 the U.S. House of Representatives made Daylight Saving Time a law in an attempt to conserve energy during World War I. The system was reformed in 1966 (and again in 1974 and 2005) to ease confusion for travelers and newscasters. Yes, even then, people were annoyed with the madness of changing the clocks.
Does It Actually Save Energy or Money?
It’s still unclear as to how beneficial Daylight Saving Time is from an energy-saving perspective. In one study the California Energy Commission found that there was only a 0.2% energy savings (nothing to write home about) from Daylight Saving Time. What’s more, the study had a margin of error of 1.5%, so it could theoretically be useless or even wasting energy.
Daylight Saving Time and Your Sleep
Can’t sleep when the clocks change? You’re not alone. Gaining an hour in the fall can do just as much damage as losing an hour in the spring. According to Dr. Yvonne Harrison from Harvard Health, even a small one-hour shift – in either direction – can affect your sleep for up to a week.
Energy savings aside, sleep lost due to DST can impact productivity. A lack of sleep can leave you in a fog, which then trickles into your work life. Studies also suggest that changes to the clock increase your tendency to aimlessly surf the web. And when all of us are unproductive at once, it hurts the productivity of the entire country. In a 2013 study, it was suggested that Daylight Saving Time costs the nation an estimated $434 million each year from lost productivity.
When you forcibly change your sleep patterns, it’s going to impact your wellness, creating a ripple effect that hurts your day-to-day activities. This lack of sleep can have negative effects on your body and mind, including trouble with thinking and concentration, mood changes, a weakened immune system, higher blood pressure, weight gain, a high risk of heart disease, and a higher risk for diabetes. In other words, don’t mess around with sleep.
Steps to Sleeping Like a Log
Has all this talk of Daylight Saving Time got you tossing and turning at night? Don’t worry! There are some best practices for getting your brain and your body back on track after DST. You’ll be able to hit the hay like a pro with the following tips.
A Plan for Your Pillow
If you’re worried about sleepless nights, ease yourself into the new sleep schedule. During the last week of Daylight Saving Time, begin prepping for bed 10-15 minutes later each day. This way your body will be ready for the shift on Sunday morning.
Room for Improvement
When recovering from the effects of Daylight Saving Time, make sure your room accommodates a good night’s sleep. First things first – it needs to be dark. The absence of light can signal your body’s release of melatonin, which is often called the sleep hormone. Keep out the light with the help of curtains or a sleep mask.
Block out distracting sounds, with either white noise or some relaxing music. Reputable studies suggest that music that has a rhythm of around 60 beats a minute is ideal for high-quality sleep.
And since your body naturally cools off while you sleep, you can jump start the sleep process by lowering the temperature in your room. Experts recommend that your bedroom hover between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep. So take a chill pill and drift off to the land of nod.
Turn It Off
Your electronics – whether that’s television, computers, tablets or phones – can all negatively affect your ability to sleep. Your brain associates this light with wakefulness, which is the opposite of what you need at this time. Shut them off and pick up a book, or spend this time stretching or doing yoga.
If you absolutely need to be on your phone, try filtering out the blue light, which is a function available on many smart phones. Not all light is created equal, and blue light is especially known for inhibiting the production of melatonin.
A Massage Before Bed
To prepare your body for sleep, ease yourself into a sleepy state with a massage on demand. Zeel provides sleep massage therapy options and will send a massage therapist to your home – the perfect place to prepare for a restful night of restorative sleep. While there are many benefits to a massage, they have specifically been proven to raise levels of serotonin (which helps with the production of melatonin) and reduce muscle stress.
If you’re looking for other opportunities to relax before bed, try using essential oils. Aromatherapy can promote calmness and rest. Essential oils can also be paired with your massage, allowing you to further improve your quality of sleep.
Strong and Sleepy
Exercise is, of course, incredibly beneficial for all aspects of your life. And doing aerobic exercises before Daylight Saving Time ends is a great tool for a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that prolonged exercise – performed regularly over several weeks – helped adults with insomnia fall asleep faster, for longer periods of time, and with a higher quality of sleep.
Before you head to the gym for a workout, though, make sure you’re not exercising too late in the day. Exercising in the evening or right before bed can mess with your ability to sleep, as this stimulates your body and heats it up – both of which could leave you staring at the ceiling instead of sleeping.
Before Daylight Saving Time ends, try laying off the naps, as the extra sleep could inhibit your ability to adjust when the clocks change. But if you’re feeling sluggish after Daylight Saving Time, consider taking a quick catnap during the day. Don’t sleep the day away, as this will likely leave you groggy and inhibit your ability to sleep at night. Instead, take a short 10 to 20 minute nap, which will help give you a boost, improve your focus, and set you on the path to success until you can get caught up at night.
The changing of the clocks can be a real headache if you’re not ready to make the shift. But with the proper prep, you can transition to the new sleep schedule with ease. Follow this bedtime blueprint to sleep well throughout the night.