As we approach daylight savings this Sunday (26th March) and prepare to move our clocks forward, reports indicate that the average person may lose up to 40 minutes of sleep. Unfortunately, this loss of sleep can have serious consequences, including an increased risk of mood disturbance and traffic accidents.
To shed some light on this issue, the experts at Brainworks Neurotherapy have shared their insights on how changes in sleep patterns can affect our brains. With their expert knowledge, they reveal the potential consequences of daylight savings and provide guidance on how we can adjust to the time change this spring.
James Roy, a representative from Brainworks Neurotherapy, discusses the effects of losing an hour of sleep on our brain health. He notes that daylight is a natural regulator of our circadian rhythms, and even a one-hour change in our metabolism can disrupt our internal clocks, putting excess strain on the brain and nervous system. According to Roy, the week following the time change delivers a 24% rise in heart attacks, an 8% rise in strokes, and a 6% rise in fatal car accidents.
James explained: “On a brain level, the daylight hour changes and sleep disruption weaken the power of our frontal lobes. This weakening of frontal brain activity can increase mistakes and impair memory, decision-making, and our ability to properly regulate our emotional reactions.”
James further explained that irritation and worsening of mood disorders are common for a few days after the time change due to the weakening of our frontal lobes. The change can be seen in a brain activity map, and time changes have a visible effect on our brains.
6 tips to avoid sleep disruption during daylight savings
- Change your night-time routine before the clocks change. A little planning can help. To help minimise the impact of the time change, try to have your evening meal and go to bed 30 minutes earlier for a few nights before the time changes. Amending night-time routines before daylight savings will help ease the transition into the time change.
- Go to bed earlier the night the clocks change. Where possible, on the night of the time change, go to bed an hour early. By doing this you can keep the hour that will be lost at 1 am on Sunday 26th March, meaning you will not lose out on any sleep, making the transition into daylight savings easier to adjust to.
- Get as much early morning sunlight as you can. For the week following the time change, try to get as much early morning sunlight as possible to help your body readjust to the new time. The body’s circadian clock responds to sunlight, and by taking in natural sunlight you feel more refreshed and energised for the day ahead.
- Keep a consistent sleep routine. By keeping a consistent bedtime and waking up at a similar time every day, your body will find it easier to adjust. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep alongside this to help hit the ground running when the clocks do change.
- Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. As much as you may enjoy a caffeinated drink, it can cause a disruption to sleep patterns. To limit any disruption to sleep, try and keep caffeine consumption to the mornings and early afternoon at the latest.
- Nap if you need to. If the clock changing has left you feeling very tired, consider having a nap during the day to help catch up on some of the lost sleep. It is recommended to keep daytime naps short and sweet, with 20 minutes being the optimal time for a power nap. A general rule of thumb is to opt for no more than a half an hour nap to ensure that you will be able to get to sleep at bedtime.
The upcoming daylight savings time change can have serious consequences on our sleep, mood, and overall health. By following these tips, such as adjusting your nighttime routine before the clocks change, getting early morning sunlight, and keeping a consistent sleep routine, you can help your body adjust more easily to the time change and avoid potential negative consequences on your health.