It’s a sunny, sleepy March morning and you’ve just woken up from a peaceful night's sleep to a day full of bright beginnings. Your eyes glance over to the time, and like a stone to a window your morning me-time has suddenly shattered into morning mayhem. One whole entire hour is not where it should be.
Unfortunately, the loss of time is the grim reality we all must face when Daylight Saving Time (DST) comes knocking on our clocks. This 27 March won’t just see a loss of an hour, but the loss of sleep and productivity too.
Here we’re going to discuss why this odd case of clock fiddling happens each year, what impact it has on sleep, and some of the things you can do to beat the time at its own game.
What is Daylight Saving Time?
Each year, a selection of countries from around the world move their clocks forward by one hour in the spring, only to move them back again when the autumn comes. This idea first came about when an entomologist called George Hudson wanted more time to study insects in the summer.
It’s important to note that whilst moving the clocks forward doesn’t actually create any more sunlight, it does alter the typical work schedule, so as intended, people have more time to enjoy the sunshine after work.
Setting the clocks forward and then back again realigns the time of the day more closely to the natural rising and setting of the sun. When the winter comes back around, it’s assumed that everyone will want to spend more time inside, so the clocks give back an hour.
There are lots of problems to consider with DST. It’s not followed by all countries in the world, especially in places closer to the equator where the change of the seasons is much less pronounced; where the weather is kind enough to be bright and sunny most of the year round.
And although the plan originally put itself forward as a way to save energy, as people would be outside more and so heating and lighting their houses less, this principle of one hundred years ago has struggled to remain accurate or entirely relevant in the tech-driven world of today.
The original intentions of DST no longer align with the modern world, but this is just a small part of the problem.
The More Personal Change
No one enjoys the disruption of losing an hour of their day, especially when the loss occurs in the middle of the night when trying to get as much sleep as possible. Aside from the immediate confusion it causes to clocks around the world, there’s another problem with DST that lands a little closer to home.
Another ugly by-product of this time trickery comes in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s essentially a form of depression that’s onset by the changing of the seasons, and although it’s widely associated with the transition of summer into autumn, the development of SAD can also be equally triggered by the moving of winter into spring.
SAD is a seasonal sadness that causes you to feel totally zapped of energy, appetite and happy thoughts. Although these symptoms have a hand in making you feel unhappy during the day, their grip really tightens when the night comes around, and feeling SAD can have massive consequences on the most important cycle of all: your sleep.
SAD and DST aren’t by any means one and the same. Both can exist without the other. But when both work in tandem with one another, as more often than not is the case, the combination can have really dire consequences for the delicate balance of the body that the health of the sleep relies on.
According to this really interesting study by the Journal of Clinic Sleep Medicine, the loss of a single hour by means of DST left the study’s younger participants feeling fatigued for a week; not doing their mental health or education any good. The study also recorded their reaction times as being much slower than before.
Another similar study by Epidemiology also highlighted the adverse effects of DST, finding that it had a massive negative impact on the body’s circadian rhythms; otherwise known as the body’s ability to control when it goes to sleep and when it wakes up.
Unfortunately, the shifting hands on the clock aren’t the only thing that’s going to leave your spring feeling sour. External factors like allergens and pollen will wreak havoc on the comfort of your body when the new season arrives.
Aside from generating wildly itchy eyes and a runny nose during the day, allergens are one of springtime’s primary sleep deprivers, and is very much responsible for the likes of snoring and sleep apnea; things that can impact even those who don’t personally suffer from them.
And although we love to see its shine most of the time, the extra hours of added sunlight won’t do any favours for your sleep. The body needs darkness to be able to produce melatonin, the magical sleep hormone whose flow should never be disrupted; extra bad news to hear when the valuable darkness of the night is only due to get shorter as we progress into summer.
There are many things that you can do to beat the sunlight of course. You could either invest in a complete set of blackout curtains, which can be costly and inefficient if you’re renting or sleeping between different places.
Or, and what we’d personally recommend, you can get yourself one of these 3D Contoured Blackout Sleep Masks. Not only are they super eyelash-friendly, but one of these mighty masks will allow you to take blackout technology with you wherever your sleep goes.
But aside from a wise investment in a Sleep Mask, there are some other tricks you can do if you really want to save your day from daylight saving:
If we’re going to get more sunlight, we’d better use it to its full advantage! Exercise is not only a great tool for keeping the body in ship-shape, but it’s also one of the most powerful ways to counteract depression and SAD. On top of this, getting more physical can help you find peace when it’s time to sleep.
2. An Hour Early
The oldest trick in the book we know, but we promise it works if done right. On 26 March, the day before the dreaded time shift, ensure that your body is kept as tired as possible. Wake up on time, be as active as you can and don’t hold back on burning out your batteries.
When the night comes, you’ll have nothing to do but sleep like a baby, effectively sleeping earlier than you usually would and thus beating the influence of a missing hour. In other words, don’t let DST catch you off guard.
3. Spring Clean
High quality sleep is alarmingly dependent on our sleep surroundings, and there’s no time like a big spring clean to make your bed and bedroom as comfortable as possible. A regular rearrange is especially recommended if you suffer from allergies, as pollen has a particular habit of landing and staying kept in one place for a long period of time, like your pillowcases for example.
To this end, we’d really recommend switching out any of your cotton sheets and pillowcases for hypoallergenic alternatives. And when considering the wider impact of a rearrange, nothing quite beats SAD or DST like a fresh change of scenery.
But now our words must come to an end, and all we can wish you now is the very best of luck for when it’s time for time to leave us. Make note, 27 March is coming!
For more ways to beat spring’s sorry sensation of sleep, head on over to our dreamy collection of sleep saviours here.
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