As the saying goes, “spring forward, fall back”. Which means, we’re all about to take a 60-minute leap ahead and score some extra barbecuing time in the evening. It’ll happen at 2am on Sunday 27 September, to be exact.
Personally, I think daylight saving is a great idea. That extra hour of daylight is a gift that enables me to do more exercise, tackle an outside job, eat dinner alfresco, or whatever takes my fancy.
The downside is I lose one hour of sleep. How bad can that be really? After all, it’s only an hour. Harden up princess, I tell myself. In my younger days an hour’s sleep was all I got some nights - but that’s another story.
A jetlaggish hangover kind of feeling
The change when daylight saving kicks off is often described as similar to a mild case of jetlag or a light hangover. There are a couple of factors that cause this feeling: obviously you get an hour’s less rest on the night of the change; then, as it will be darker in the morning, your body clock (circadian rhythms) may not be ready to wake you up an hour earlier than normal.
The side-effects of daylight saving really kick in on Monday morning, when you’re driving to work an hour’s short on sleep using a brain that wasn’t ready to wake up. Of course, different people react in different ways. Your response to the initiation of daylight saving depends on health, sleep habits and lifestyle. It also depends on whether you’re naturally a lark or an owl.
Mastering that circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that together form your body clock. They run in the background, carrying out important functions and processes. The sleep-wake cycle is one of these cycles.
Changing light conditions, such as lighter evenings and darker mornings, take time to adjust to. It doesn’t happen overnight. Compounding this is possibly a sleep-deprived state, so your missing hour’s sleep lands on top of an existing sleep deficit.
Good news, bad news and then good news again
The good news is, it takes just one to two days to adjust to a one-hour time change. So if you’re still feeling a bit rubbish a week after daylight saving starts, it’s probably due to some other factor in your life (like staying up too late, because you had the neighbours around for an extended barbecue).
The bad news is that there’s a significant increase in accident rates on the Monday following daylight-saving time. But this bad news is neutralised by another chunk of good news; studies show an overall reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities due to daylight saving time changes.
Overall, other than a few tired or grumpy people, daylight saving has positive impacts. The price of that extra hour of sunlight in the evening is only a couple of days of mild tiredness.
How to prepare for daylight saving
If you’re concerned about the change that’s coming towards the end of September, here’s some expert advice:
“Start now to get your body ready for the time shift”, says Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D., Reverie Sleep Advisory Board Member and assistant professor at the University of California San Diego. This professor suggests shifting your bedtime and wake-up time by 15 minutes each day (and the rest of your schedule accordingly) leading up to the change, so your body can adjust more gradually.
And don’t forget all the normal common-sense rules about limiting screen time, coffee and alcohol to improve sleep quality. Plus there’s the master-stroke of making your bed with our luxurious Tencel Cotton sheets, which help to lull you to sleep with their natural softness, weight and breathability.