Daylight Saving Time: How the Time Change Affects Our Sleep
The clocks sprung forward last night for daylight savings time, and many are looking forward to the brighter evenings and warmer days ahead.
But daylight savings time also means we will lose an hour of much needed sleep.
According to a study completed by ParticipACTION, Canadian adults get approximately 7.2 hours of sleep per night, while 55% of women and 45% of men between the ages of 18 and 64 have trouble falling asleep.
“Yes, evenings are brighter and we like longer days, but we are losing an hour of sleep…And Canadians as a whole are [already] chronically sleep deprived,” said Alanna McGinn, sleep expert and president of Good Night Sleep Site.
Good Night Sleep Site is a family sleep consulting practice that teaches Canadians about healthy sleep habits. McGinn and ParticipACTION are teaming up to educate Canadians on how they can get a better sleep.
McGinn explained how there are three primary pillars of health: physical activity, nutrition, and sleep. One of the main reasons Canadians are not getting enough sleep is because we may not prioritize sleep like we do the other two pillars.
“We know when we’re not working out. We know when we’re not making good nutritional choices. But we all sleep, so we might not understand that maybe we’re not getting the right amount or quality of sleep,” explained McGinn.
Sleep loss can be attributed to a lack of physical activity and heightened levels of stress. And the latter is something many university-aged students are all too familiar with.
Many students compromise sleep to study longer hours, but a well-rested brain is proven to retain information much better.
Chronic sleep deprivation can also have serious effects on one’s mental and physical health. While sleep deprivation is not a direct cause of depression and anxiety, consistent loss of sleep can heighten students’ symptoms if they’re going through a bout of depression and anxiety.
Losing sleep can also result in a loss of impulse control.
“Studies show that the first week after this time change we see an increase in car accidents, because again, we are taking away one hour of sleep in an already sleep deprived society,” said McGinn.
To get a good night’s rest, McGinn highlighted the importance of engaging in physical activity. Incorporating about 30 minutes of vigorous to moderate physical activity a day can help build your body’s drive for sleep.
The type of environment you are sleeping in can also play a big role, especially when your phone finds its way into the bedroom.
“If we are getting lost down the Instagram hole before we go to bed, or reading the news, it can definitely keep us up at night and maybe even heighten some anxiety and stress that university students might already be feeling,” claimed McGinn.
While students may use their phones as an alarm, chances are they will often find themselves scrolling through social media all hours of the night. So, try to find another spot for your phone that isn’t your bed or bedside table.
To combat stress before bed, McGinn suggests creating a bedtime routine. Even something as small as changing into pajamas before bed, rather than wearing your pajamas around the house all day, can signal to your body that you are preparing for a good sleep.
Students often have very busy schedules; whether studying, partying, or working a job, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent sleep pattern. But if you take time to engage in physical activity, prepare yourself for bed, and sleep at a reasonable hour, you can combat those awful, sleepless nights.