Nashville, Tenn. (ABC) – It’s time to spring forward, but the sweet act of moving the clocks an hour ahead can deliver a blow to your sleeping schedule.
For most, daylight saving time is an exciting sign of spring that comes with a slightly sleepy Monday. But if you’re not a morning person to begin with, your mood and productivity can take a dive. Daylight saving time has been blamed for car accidents, workplace injuries and stock market dips in the past.
That’s because people are experiencing more than just jet lag this time of year. They’re dealing with a new light-dark cycle.
“It’s an interesting paradox, because traveling one time zone east or west is very easy for anyone to adapt to,” said Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland, Oregon. “But in daylight saving time, the new light-dark cycle is perversely working against the body clock. We’re getting less sunlight in morning and more in the evening.”
The body clock is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain that generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours, but it’s not precise.
“It needs a signal every day to reset it,” said Lewy.
The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and “corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours,” said Lewy. But when the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles don’t line up, people can feel out-of-sync, tired and downright grumpy.
With time, the body clock adjusts on its own. But here are a few ways to help it along.