Daylight Savings Time: How to Prevent the Foggy Groggy Monday
It’s that time again (ugh) when most of us turn our clocks one hour ahead - daylight savings time. That one-hour loss of sleep doesn’t sound like much, but it can make waking up on Monday morning even harder than any other week.
Why the One-Hour Sleep Loss is So Painful
Because this planet we live on makes one rotation every 24 hours, we often assume that we’ve just adjusted to this by sleeping at night and waking in the morning. But, that isn’t true.
When people are placed in window-less environments without any time cues, our bodies STILL keep to an internal 24-hour schedule. In fact, this internal body clock is actually programmed into every cell of the human body.
This body clock regulates our daily pattern of body temperature fluctuations, hormone secretion, and so much more – including when we naturally get sleepy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, we’re already sleep-deprived. On average about a half-hour a day. But, each spring, when we lose this extra hour of sleep, the effects of this sleep loss get even worse.
The body still wants to go to sleep at the body’s programmed hour…which makes it difficult to get us – and the rest of the family – up in the morning.
This sleep loss results in a foggy groggy state of being – very much like when we experience jet lag.
And, we don’t just feel bad. Sleep loss results in a higher risk for a road accident on our drive into work (even if you’ve gotten enough sleep…the other guys haven’t). And then more errors and accidents within the workplace.
Adjusting Your Body Clock for Daylight Savings Time
Since it takes one day for the body to adjust to each one-hour time change, if we do the right things on the weekend before daylight saving time, we’ll feel fine on Monday.
Here are three strategies to help you feel less fatigued on the Monday after daylight savings time.
- Go to bed a half-hour earlier both Friday night – and Saturday. Come Monday morning your body clock will be consistent to the time on the clock. Can't do that? Then try this…
- Reset your clocks back after your Saturday evening meal - and adjust your evening activities accordingly so you can, hopefully, trick your body into going to sleep on the new time schedule. And, don’t sleep in on Sunday! It’s better (safer) to feel the fatigue on Sunday when you have fewer responsibilities, instead of Monday. Can't plan in advance?
- On Monday morning, set your alarm for the time you absolutely need to get up – and then hop out of bed! Do NOT keep hitting the snooze button - that will make your fatigue even worse.
Help for Getting to Sleep Earlier
The key to help our body feel sleepy earlier in the evening, is to maximize our natural melatonin production. That’s the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
Melatonin is called the Dracula hormone because it only comes out in the dark, so keeping a dark environment throughout the night is important. Follow these suggestions to help you get a better night’s sleep:
- 3-2-1. No alcohol or heavy meals three hours before bedtime. Both alcohol and heavy meals can prevent rejuvenating deep sleep. Put away work two hours before bedtime. And, one hour before bedtime start dimming the lights and turn off electronics. All lights interfere with melatonin production. Try doing something to help you relax like some stretching or light reading (under dim lights)
- Make the bedroom as dark as possible. Did you know that light can pass through even closed eye lids, shutting down melatonin production? So, keep the TV out of the bedroom, close the blinds, turn off all lights – including the bathroom and hall lights. If that’s not possible, use an eye mask.
- Use a very dim night light in the bathroom, if needed. Replace that white light bulb with an orange or red one for the least effect on your melatonin production.
Suggestions for Monday After Daylight Savings Time
If you heed the earlier suggestions, this coming Monday morning will be no different than any other Monday morning. But, if you didn’t, expect to feel more tired and groggy than usual.
Here are some suggestions on how to cope if you're feeling sleepy, foggy, and groggy:
- Use caffeine during the morning hours to help with fatigue. But, stop caffeine after the noon hour…so you don’t mess with Monday night’s sleep.
- Drink more water. The human body is 60% water. And, fluid losses of just 1-2 percent can cause fatigue. Most of the time, when we think we need another cup of coffee, what our body is really craving is the water.
- Eat breakfast! We get energy from calorie-containing foods. Don’t expect this from caffeine. Caffeine a stimulant drug that just makes us FEEL like we have more energy.
- Get 30 minutes of daylight during the morning hours. This morning sunlight will hasten our body clock to readjust to the new time schedule.
- A short afternoon nap (10-15 min) can help relieve your fatigue. Just be sure it’s before 4PM. Late naps can interfere with the next night’s sleep.
- Get moving, moving. A short burst of movement, like a short walk, some jumping jacks, or running up a flight of stairs, will help to energize you.
- Get back to the new sleep time on Monday night. And, if you do all these things, you’ll feel tired and sleepy at your new bedtime.
The good news about daylight savings time is that we will have more daylight in the evening hours when we return from work. To have some fun! So, get outside and enjoy yourself.
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