Maintain a regular sleep schedule as the clocks advance

As Clocks Spring Forward, Keep Sleep On Track

While you may simply be concerned about losing an hour of sleep as the clocks advance on Sunday, an expert warns that the time change can be harmful to your health.

According to James Wyatt, a clinical sleep problem specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, research suggests that the risk of stroke, heart attack, and traffic accidents all rise in the days after the switch to daylight saving time.

“There is no debate among sleep scientists: the agreement is that we should abolish daylight saving time and return to regular time permanently,” Wyatt stated in a university press release.

Changes in time have an impact on your body’s natural circadian rhythms, which help your brain signal when it’s time to sleep and regulate many other organ functions.

“We have clocks all over our bodies,” Wyatt said. “Our circadian cycles are regulated by a particular region in the hypothalamus, which functions as the master pacemaker, telling us, “This is daytime, do this, now it’s midnight, do that.” Depending on the time of day, our organ systems must modify their function.”

“Our gut digests more at night and less during the day,” he added, “our urine production decreases in the evening so we may sleep through the night more easily,” and “our temperature is higher during the day than at night, all of which is regulated by our circadian rhythm.”

When regular cycles are disrupted by events like time changes, traveling across time zones, or working rotational shifts, the body responds with stress.

“When the clocks change, many individuals plan to go to bed an hour earlier, but they rarely do,” Wyatt said. “That implies you’ve just lost an hour of sleep and your circadian rhythms are out of sync, which explains why we notice an increase in accidents when daylight saving time starts.”

According to Wyatt, you may lessen the impact of the springtime shift by planning ahead for a few days.

“The simplest approach to cope with the springtime shift is to go to bed and wake up 30 minutes earlier on the Friday before the time change, March 11,” he advised.

“Then, for the next night, set it 30 minutes earlier. You’ll be back on your regular schedule by Sunday’s time change, without missing an hour of sleep.”

Breaking the one-hour time change into two 30-minute shifts allows your body to acclimate to the new schedule while also lessening the burden on your circadian clock.