It is that time of the year again. Spring has sprung, and the days are starting to get longer which most people love, us included. And with it, except for in Hawaii and Arizona, we “spring forward” and turn our clocks forward for one hour, which means that we lose one hour of time also. It will cause the daylight to last longer at the end of the day, but it also causes the daylight to start the day later as well. This year the time changes on Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 2:00 A.M. Between the natural lengthening of the days and taking of an hour away, it usually takes most people some time to get used to the change. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but that change can affect people. The obvious initial challenge would be that one would feel less energy due to the sleep deprivation. This adds on top of the fact that a significant amount of people in the United States are already functioning without adequate sleep. In fact, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33% of all Americans are chronically sleep deprived!
Usually in November of every year, we “fall back” and add that hour back, but it is more difficult to adjust to the Spring time change than it is to adjust to the Fall change. There are some tricks that people can do in order to adjust easier to the change. If you haven’t already slowly gone to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier than normal at least 4 days before the time change, you still can do some other things to help get more uninterrupted sleep the last few days before, or even the night before. Turning off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, especially televisions, computers and smartphones, can really help. The screens actually cause the melatonin in your body to delay increasing its levels. Melatonin helps us wind down naturally and get a better night’s sleep. Also, avoiding eating any meals right before bed, no alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, and possibly doing something relaxing such as light stretching or yoga, or even a warm bath would help get a better night sleep before the time change.
The research that points to the Spring time change affecting health conditions is present as well. For example, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, with teenagers, they lost significant amounts of sleep after specifically the Spring time change, and showed increased sleepiness, delayed reaction time, and more lapses in attention on subsequent days. This is worth noting not only from an academic performance standpoint, but also with respect to teenagers’ driving safety. Several other studies suggested that increases in fatal automobile accidents fell on the days following the Spring time change as well.
So, as the days get longer and the sunshine shines brighter, make sure you make the “adjustments”, and have a wonderful spring!