Losing time: how to cope with onset of daylight saving

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 12:43:00 EST

It happens every spring.

On the Monday morning after daylight saving time begins, workers often suffer from a loss of sleep. Not only does that impact productivity, it can be dangerous, too, says sleep expert Catesby Ware, PhD.

Sleepy commuters have an elevated crash risk as a result of “microsleep,” when we can lose consciousness for periods as long as 30 seconds, says Dr. Ware, the John and Lillian Norfleet Professor in Internal Medicine and Chief of Sleep Medicine.

He offers these tips to cope with the time change that takes place at 2 a.m. March 12:

  • Go to bed early, particularly this Friday and Saturday night, he says. This helps you bank sleep and gives you a cushion heading into next week.
  • Each morning next week, make sure to eat something, exercise (even if only briefly), spend some time in bright or blue light and talk with others. All these help the body clock adjust to the new time.

The onset of daylight saving time impacts the young more than older adults.

“This time shift will affect high school students and young adults more than the older set,” Dr. Ware says. “The change will actually benefit some elderly who wake up too early in the morning and become sleep too early in the evening – though they may suffer in the fall when we go off daylight saving time.”