“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker
Feeling like that extra large cup of coffee is just not large enough to kick start your day? Moving the clocks ahead an hour as we switch to Daylight Saving Time may be the culprit. The reason for our zombie-like state is quite simple: we actually lost an hour’s sleep.
Getting up an hour earlier than you’re used to won’t necessarily affect your mood or your memory, but it can have an effect on your brain. “That will have an impact on your vigilance, probably your attention, and probably your ability to concentrate, your ability to react to things in your environment,” says Stuart Fogel, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa.
Studies being run by Fogel, who works in the Sleep Research Lab, are proving that when slightly sleep deprived, otherwise healthy people exhibit slower reaction times and are less able to multitask due to a lack of concentration. “There’s some literature showing that there are increases in accidents, workplace, motor-vehicle accidents and the severity of them is greater following the time change,” adds Fogel.
So, how can you prevent yourself from falling into this rabbit hole next time around? You’d have to start making slight adjustments to your sleep schedule during the week leading up to the time change. You would need to make a conscious effort to adjust your going-to-bed time and your waking time in 15-minute increments over the course of that week.
Now that you’re in Daylight Saving Time, the simplest way to get yourself back on track is to make a regular sleep schedule—and don’t deviate from it. “Our brains, they really crave regularity,” says Fogel. “And when there is a change like Daylight Saving Time, the best thing you can do is go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. And your brain will thank you for it and you’ll sleep better as a result.”
However, if you’re like me, you probably hit the snooze button each morning. And hitting that tiny little button just once is never enough, right?
People generally think they’ve had a bad night’s sleep if they have a hard time waking up. According to author and writer Maria Konnikova, this is not necessarily the case. She says if you keep a regular schedule, your body has conditioned itself to start the wake up process for about one to two hours before that annoying alarm goes off. Hitting the snooze button actually messes with your sleep cycle by restarting it.
“You end up right back to where it began and you’re making all those preparations for nothing,” explains Konnikova. “You end up being even sleepier, even groggier than you would have been had you just dealt with it and gotten up right away.”
When your alarm goes off tomorrow morning, and you’re about to hit that snooze button… stop yourself. Turn your alarm to the off position. Then, take a moment to be mindful of how you’re working towards resetting your internal clock. Being mindful of your intentions will go a long way towards helping you get back on track. Next? Make a point of actually getting out of bed. Go find your favourite mug, and pour yourself a big cuppa.