The end of daylight saving time is soon approaching, and while most of us look forward to that “extra” hour of sleep, there are a few things to think about when society’s clock changes, but our biological clock doesn’t.
With the time change, our streets and roads become darker closer to rush hour. This poses increased danger for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
Studies have shown increased accidents due to poor visibility and possibly because of increased drowsiness in darker environments.
Here are some tips to help you get through the upcoming time change.
Generally speaking, it is easier for us to adapt to the fall time change because it is easier to stay up later than to sleep earlier. However, there are those that do have difficulty staying up later than their usual time, and if time allows, they should try to do so as the days approach the end of daylight saving time. The principle is to keep roughly the same schedule you normally did before the time change.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
Sometimes people try to “take advantage” of the extra hour by staying up late and partaking in things that are known to disrupt sleep further such as alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime.
3. Use light to your advantage
The strongest determinant of your biological clock (or your “circadian rhythm”) is light. The fall time change heralds shorter and darker days. For some, this can lead to disrupted sleep schedules and even depression. If there is natural sunlight, this can be helpful to combat these problems. In the absence of natural light, light box therapy has been used to both adjust people’s biological clocks and to combat seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression associated with darker days.
4. Remember safety
Remember that time changes are associated with increased automobile, bicycle and pedestrian accidents. Be careful out there. Also use this time to remind you to make your home safer. Check your batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the supplies of any emergency preparedness kits you may have, especially ones for the winter. See that your fire extinguishers are up to date.
What are your strategies for dealing with the time change? Share them in the comments!
Gopal Allada, M.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine who specializes in Critical Care, Sleep Medicine, Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Medicine.