How to deal with inevitable fatigue you’ll feel after Daylight Saving Time
Before you drift off to sleep Saturday night, you might be moving your clock ahead to account for Daylight Saving Time. Some of us are better than others at dealing with changing clocks, but scientists agree it takes a toll on our well-being.
Dr. Nate Watson, a neurologist and director of the University of Washington’s Sleep Center, said our bodies are not meant to deal with Daylight Saving Time.
“It’s just a matter of that alignment between our internal Circadian rhythm and where the sun is,” Watson said. “We are designed to sleep when it’s dark out and be awake during the day.”
That misalignment with the sun can bring on major issues, Watson said, noting that shift workers have a higher risk of health problems like cancer.
Every year, the switch to Daylight Saving Time causes a temporary uptick in hospitalizations for heart problems and car crashes caused by fatigue.
“When we spring forward, traffic accidents increase by about 6%, there’s an increase risk of heart attacks and strokes — we all have our Circadian rhythms get misaligned,” Watson said.
To help your body adjust, Watson suggested going to bed 15 or 30 minutes early until the time change and then sleeping in an additional half-hour on Monday if your schedule allows.
In general, Watson said sleep-tracking apps have shown people getting better sleep during the pandemic, likely because they don’t have early morning commutes or late night events.
“Not having to commute to work and having more flexibility is allowing people to take more control of their sleep,” he said.
He hopes this will inspire people to keep this pro-sleep mindset going forward, even after COVID is behind us.
However, others have found themselves having more sleepless nights because of the increased anxieties from the pandemic.
“If you’re worried about getting the disease, if you know someone who has the disease, if you’ve lost your job, that’s going to negatively impact sleep,” he said.
Watson suggested creating a “worry journal” before bed to stop the anxieties swirling around in the middle of the night — and not looking at the clock if you do find yourself awake. To help get yourself tired again, relocate to a different part of the house and try listening to some soothing music or reading a book. Try to avoid screen time or turning on lots of lights.
Another trend during the pandemic is that people stuck indoors have certainly been enjoying their TV shows. However, Watson said it’s best to stay away from screens right before you go to sleep. If you must tune in to that next episode of “WandaVision,” Watson recommended getting glasses to block blue wavelengths.