Daylight savings time has been a hotly contested topic since its inception centuries ago, though more so today than ever before. Scientists and researchers, particularly those specializing in sleep and the impact of good sleep on an individual’s health, are arguing against daylight savings and suggesting that there is little to no medical benefit to implementing it. In fact, some of these medical experts, who propose the abandonment of the system for the introduction of a permanent, year-round standard time, even claim that it can pose several health concerns. We have assessed their concerns in this article and considered the risks associated with daylight savings time to help keep you up to date on the debate.
The Daylight Savings Debate In A Nutshell
On one side, sleep experts claim that the transition from standard time to daylight savings time impacts the natural sleep-wake cycle in individuals. They argue that this shift could lead to harmful side effects such as sleep disruption which impacts bodily functions while an individual is asleep and more severe chronic conditions such as insomnia.
Others support daylight savings time and state that the evidence of its ability to save energy and decrease the occurrence of traffic injuries is a key driver behind its systematic introduction each year.
This debate has been going on for centuries and there is still much research to be done and proposed by both sides for the general consensus to reach a unanimous climax. While that possibility may not be in sight, there are valid arguments to be had on both sides. However, despite the arguments, there is a clear impact on sleep as a result of the transition from standard time to daylight savings time.
How Does Daylight Savings Affect Sleep?
Our body clocks are regulated by circadian rhythms, which are 24-hour cycles that affect and trigger bodily functions such as appetite and mood. The rhythms are generally impacted by an individual’s exposure to light, hence the light-darkness cycle has a direct influence over the body’s internal responses. The transition into daylight savings time delays one’s natural sleep cycle as there is more time of darkness in the morning and light in the evening. This disruption in the presence of light and darkness can throw one’s circadian rhythms off and impact one’s quality of sleep.
Researchers have been assessing this process and studies have found that the average person received 40 minutes less sleep during the transition from standard time to daylight savings time. This transition has also shown that negative sleep habits occur, with disruptions tending to rise in frequency and signs of insomnia becoming more prevalent during this time of the year. For many people, the adjustment can be easy and smooth while, for others, the change can lead to chronic or permanent sleep conditions such as insomnia.
These medical scientists suggest that standard time is more in line with humans’ natural circadian rhythms and advocate for the abandonment of daylight savings time altogether. They argue that this should help minimize the risks associated with poor sleep as well as more severe sleep conditions.
Sleep Tips For Daylight Savings
Getting a proper night’s sleep is always important as the body benefits from essential functions that occur internally while you are asleep. Quality sleep is also critical during daylight savings time to minimize the health risks associated with the system, and we have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you prepare for the adjustment.
Implement Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Practices that could affect your sleep for better or worse fall into the category of sleep hygiene. To ready yourself for a healthy adjustment to daylight savings time, you should minimize your intake of coffee or caffeine especially after lunchtime or within four hours of your bedtime. Also, reduce your consumption of alcohol in the hour leading up to your bedtime. This is because caffeine and alcohol disrupt one’s sleep cycle. Furthermore, the consumption of heavy dinners and snacks right before you go to bed can have a similarly disruptive effect on your sleep. You may also even wish to practice some tips and tricks outlined by the U.S. Navy!
Support Sleep With Supplements
Sleep disruption from daylight savings time is very common, so it would be wise to seek all the support that you can in the days leading up to the change. One such method for improving your quality of sleep is sourcing clinically proven supplements that fight insomnia and other causes of poor sleep. These supplements can help regulate your serotonin and melatonin levels, helping you achieve a balanced sleep-wake cycle as well as improving your feelings of relaxation before bed.
Create A Consistent Sleep Routine
A great way to prepare for daylight savings time is to establish a consistent sleep routine. You should do your best to fall into a rhythm regarding when you go to bed and what time you wake up. You should always try to get in at least 7 hours of sleep prior to and after the transition into daylight savings time.
Alter Your Bedtime Gradually
Sleep experts recommend that you adjust your waking up time by 15 to 20 minutes earlier than usual during the three days leading up to daylight savings time. On the Saturday before the time change, you should then set your alarm clock back another 15 to 20 minutes to compensate for the adjustment. Doing so should encourage a smooth transition from standard time to daylight savings time.
Get Outside And Get Active
Natural light is the primary driving force behind an individual’s circadian rhythms, so it is important that one receives enough exposure to daylight each day. Sunlight and its nourishment, through the reception of essential nutrients such as Vitamin D, has the ability to ease feelings of tiredness during the day that occur frequently during the transition to daylight savings time. Furthermore, time outdoors limits the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that increases feelings of tiredness.
Moderate Your Nap Time
Short naps, approximately 20 minutes during the day, may help individuals minimize the sleep disruptions of daylight savings time. Consider taking moderate afternoon naps during the days leading up to and after daylight savings time commences to ease into a beneficial sleep cycle.
The Bottom Line
Medical specialists continue to argue against daylight savings time as certain health risks associated with the system have become apparent in recent years. While more research needs to be conducted to prove or disprove their hypotheses, there is growing evidence highlighting negative impacts on an individual’s sleep in relation to daylight savings time. The debate is not conclusive and may not be for a long time, however, the fact that researchers and scientists are banding together in disapproval of daylight savings time with the hope of introducing a permanent, year-round standard time showcases the call for more deliberation around the system. As individuals, we can use the tips and tricks discussed in this article to minimize the risks of daylight savings time until a solution and conclusive decision have been made.