How to Combat Daylight Saving Drowsiness

One of the most dreaded times of year is slowly but surely approaching and no, it’s not finals week.

Daylight saving time was originally proposed (in typical satirical manner) by Benjamin Franklin in the late 1700s. He wrote to Parisians who were wasting candles by staying up so late at night and sleeping the early morning hours away. Since then, daylight saving time has been proposed, implemented, and revoked time and again by many countries.

Though the time change may or may not have an effect on energy consumption, its effect on people’s health is well documented. At the very least, springing forward causes sleep deprivation and decreased alertness, and at the very most it has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and car accidents.

To help avoid symptoms of daylight saving time, try to work these habits into your bedtime routine the week before:

  1. Get seven to eight hours of sleep the nights before the change by going to bed a little earlier (fifteen minutes is recommended) every night and waking up a little earlier in the morning to get used to the change gradually.
  2.  Light is a very important cue when you are asleep. WebMD says, “Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. So it is important to expose yourself to the light during the waking hours as much as possible, and conversely, do not expose yourself to bright light when it is dark outside.”
  3. Try engaging in sleep-inducing behaviors before you get to bed like taking a warm bath, wearing earplugs and an eye mask, avoiding caffeine, and exercising several hours before bedtime.
  4. Be strategic with your nap schedule. If you are one of the lucky students, you might have an hour break here or there. While you could use this time to get a half-an-hour power nap, studies say that an hour-and-a-half nap is the ideal amount of time for your body to go through the entire sleep cycle. Try to avoid taking hour-long naps. If you wake up after an hour, you will feel groggy, disoriented, and just as tired as you were before the nap.

As you are getting ready to change your clock on March 9, combat the effects of daylight savings by being smart about the time change. Make sure you don’t short your body of valuable sleep!


-Mackenzie Brown, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.



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