Is Daylight Savings ruining your sleep?

Where do you stand on Daylight Savings? Some people love it, relishing that ‘extra’ hour of sunshine at the end of the day. Others hate it. It upsets the cows (according to the dairy farmers). It’s said to increase the number of heart attacks and driving accidents. It makes concentrating at work harder.  

And it messes around with your natural sleep cycle.

What’s the idea behind Daylight Savings time?

Around 40% of the world has adopted Daylight Savings Time.

The aim of Daylight Savings is to have more hours of daylight so we have more leisure time at the end of the day. It’s also supposed to save energy. More sunlight equals less need for us to switch on the lights.

In Australia, the adoption of Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been a bit of a ‘stop – start’ affair.

It was first introduced here during World War I and was discontinued after the war finished. It started up again during WWII. The Tasmanian Government brought it back again in 1967 to save power and water during a severe drought.

But not all State Governments agree on making DST the norm. Only Victoria, NSW and South Australia have had DST in place since 1971.

Longer days tend to benefit places further away from the equator. This explains why Australia’s northern states aren’t really interested.

Is Daylight Savings bad for your health?

One argument against Daylight Savings is that it contributes to sleep deprivation.

As we roll into Daylight Savings, many people have trouble adjusting to the change. It can take up to a week to adjust to a one-hour movement on the clock. For some people, it can take longer.

Our bodies are guided by powerful circadian rhythms. These are physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle. Putting aside the effect of artificial light, we naturally respond to the light at the beginning and the end of the day.

Losing even one hour of sleep can make us feel mildly jet-lagged. It may be harder to wake-up when it’s darker in the morning and more difficult to wind-down at the other end of the day.

It’s the impact of interrupted sleep patterns that some attribute to an increase in car accidents. People lacking good quality sleep are less alert and have slower reaction time.

If you’re in good health, you probably don’t have too much to worry about, but here are some tips to overcome the effects of the Daylight Savings changeover:

  • Be mindful of the changes to your usual circadian and sleep rhythms as you add or take away an hour.
  • Exercise is a great way to help your body adjust. For best results, we recommend taking exercise at the same time every day.
  • Stick to regular bedtime and wake-up times.
  • In the morning, open the curtains and take in the sun’s rays.
  • If you can sneak in a short nap or two, during day, go head. It will do you good.

To help adjust to daylight saving time, it is recommended to start winding down earlier, take an evening bath or shower, get into comfortable pyjamas and avoiding TV and computer screens for an hour or two before hitting the sack!