Daylight saving time will come to an end on Sunday at 2 a.m. While many look forward to gaining that extra hour of sleep, there is truth in the claim that daylight saving time can affect one’s body.
We all run on a biological clock that controls our circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24- to 25-hour cycle and respond to light and darkness in our environment. Changing the clock by an hour throws off our biological clock and circadian rhythm, affecting our body temperature, mental alertness, hormone levels, gastrointestinal function and sleeping habits.
The time change can be compared to driving west to a different time zone. Your body gets thrown off when you are one hour behind than your body’s “normal time.”
Luckily, because our bodies’ natural clocks operate on a schedule that’s slightly longer than 24 hours, it’s much easier for us to adjust to an extra hour rather than shortening our day.
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The time change can still be hard for some people. Most experts believe it typically takes about one day to adjust per hour change; however, some people take longer for their bodies to regulate.
To make adjusting to the change easier, make small changes to your sleep schedule leading up to Sunday. Starting four days before, try to go to bed 15 minutes later each night, allowing your body to gradually adjust. By Sunday, you will be going to bed an hour later than you’re used to, but it will be the same time as your “typical” bedtime. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to do this, wake up and go to bed at your regular time on Sunday; don’t try sleeping an hour less to compensate for the time change.
Also make sure you are sleeping in a dark area. If your window lets light in, hang up additional curtains or fabric. With the time change, the morning sunlight comes an hour earlier.
If you still have consistent trouble sleeping, you should speak with your physician to see if you should see a sleep specialist. The Mount Nittany Health Sleep Management Program in State College can help find the cause of and determine appropriate treatment for sleep disorders that affect daily life. Common sleep disorders include narcolepsy, snoring, sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome, insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.
The sleep lab is located within the Sieg Neuroscience Center on Old Gatesburg Road and is open seven nights a week for diagnostic testing. Physicians who specialize in sleep medicine use state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose and treat sleep disorders.
The Mount Nittany Health Sleep Management Program is also accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Accreditation of sleep disorders centers by the AASM is a voluntary process for the assessment of sleep programs. Successful accreditation supports the Sleep Management Program’s assurance of quality patient care through comprehensive clinical evaluation and treatment.
To learn more, visit mountnittany.org/specialties-and-services/sleep-medicine.