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Reasons Daylight Savings Time Bothers Our Sleep

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All of us need plenty of enough sleep in order to function at our peak performance level. To lose hours of sleep does not translate to mere tiredness; it can cause health problems that are more serious than you may think. 

The 2018 Daylight Saving Time began at 2  a.m. on a Sunday morning. This means that it was time to “spring forward” and adjust the clocks by one hour either before going to bed or after waking up. 

All of us humans are a creature of habit, repeating behaviors that have become stuck in our regular routines and have created patterns that we depend on physically, mentally, and emotionally. One of the behaviors we do is to go to bed at a normal time, from where we have created certain sleep patterns that we follow. With the daylight saving time, the patterns are disrupted. Losing a few hours of sleep has already made a lot of us feeling groggy and cranky. If there's one more thing that we love to do after moving our clocks, it's complaining more about how sleep-deprived we have become.

It's not just about being sleepy and irritable. Healthy, normal people who have become slightly sleep-deprived may see an effect on their performance while they are at work or in school. There are times that sleep-deprived people may experience times of “slow reaction.” They are also prone to become less able to handle tasks that require a lot of concentration. Because of their lack of sleep, a person's ability to concentrate has considerably declined, causing them to become less attentive.

Accidents at work, at home, and on the road are also likely to increase in severity following the time change. This further goes to show that even a small amount of restricted sleeping can impact our ability to do everyday tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and driving. Even losing just an hour's worth of sleep can remarkably change how we do things each day.

Why does sleep matter?

American adults need to have a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. But according to recent studies, adults who are short sleepers (those who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep within 24 hours) are likely to suffer certain chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and depression compared to adults who get at least seven hours of sleep every day.

For the children, the effect of lack of sleep due to the time change could be more challenging. Compared to adults, children and teenagers are generally thought to require more hours of sleep as their bodies and brains are still developing. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children aged 6-12 should have at least 12 hours of sleep a day, while teenagers should have eight to hours of sleep a day, regularly, to encourage optimum physical, mental, and emotional health and development.

According to researchers, even one hour's loss of sleep can disrupt a child's brain development, and that effect can even become dangerous. It can have a negative impact on a child's brain maturation, as well as the child's capability to control certain behaviors (which also include bullying). Lack of sleep can also cause inattentiveness in school which could adversely affect their grades.

So, what should you do to minimize the impact of daylight saving time and still be able to have adequate sleep? Here are some simple tips:

1) You should catch up on sleep before the weekend.
2) Set an alarm for an earlier bedtime.
3) Go to bed at your usual time (meaning, the time before the DST).
4) Avoid drinking caffeine after 12 noon.
5) Shut off the all screens earlier than usual.
6) Avoid bright light in the evening.
7) Avoid napping within the few hours of your normal bedtime (unless you're really exhausted).
8) Avoid drinking alcohol - Yes, drinking help may make you groggy and help you to sleep quicker. However, it might disrupt your sleep cycle. As you sleep, your body will begin processing alcohol as a stimulant halfway through the night, which causes you to wake up. Also, alcohol may suppress your breathing, causing sleep apnea.

There are many people who complain about the time change each time Daylight Savings Time either begins or ends. It is possible to combat it, however, what most people would like is for it to be removed entirely so their sleep patterns aren't disrupted.


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