About one in four people suffer from health problems after the time change. The change to daylight saving time upsets the natural sleep rhythm and leads in particular to difficulties falling asleep, sleep disorders and a reduction in concentration and performance. Find out here why the time change causes poor sleep and what tips you can use to prepare your body for the change and still get a good night's sleep.
Table of contents
- The change to daylight saving time
- Our inner clock
- Five Stipps for sleeping during the time change
The change to daylight saving time
It's that time again: the changeover to daylight saving time will rob us of an hour of our sleep during the night from Saturday to Sunday, leaving us with an hour more light in the evening and an hour more dark in the morning. However, changing the clocks from two to three o'clock and the resulting shift in the rhythm of the day presents a bit of a challenge for many people. Almost one in four people report health problems as a result of the time change. For example, many people suffer from sleep disturbances, problems falling asleep, concentration difficulties or negative moods during this time and continue to feel tired and listless for up to two weeks. And what exactly causes us to sleep badly after a time change?
Our inner clock
The fact that the change throws us off track so much has to do with our natural biorhythms. Like all living creatures, we humans have an internal clock that controls our sleep-wake cycle and ensures that we get tired in the evening and wake up in the morning. This so-called circadian rhythm is also influenced by external factors. Light and darkness, for example, serve as external stimuli that exert a strong influence on the biochemical processes in our body and adapt our sleeping and waking phases to the natural daily routine. The changeover to daylight saving time therefore not only robs us of an hour's sleep once, but also acts as a kind of mini-jetlag - because the body needs time to adjust to the new conditions.
The widespread difficulties with falling asleep are mainly caused by the disruption of our hormonal balance. In the evening, when it gets dark, our bodies produce more melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, which makes us tired and helps us wind down and fall asleep. As the night progresses, melatonin levels drop again and the body secretes more cortisol to help us wake up in the morning. Because the changeover and adjustment of this hormone production does not work quickly, we usually feel very tired in the mornings during the first few days after the time change and, in return, are fit for much longer in the evenings. As a rule, our body has adapted to the new circumstances after a few days. However, some people still suffer from tiredness, problems falling asleep or depressive moods for up to two weeks and are less productive due to the disturbed sleep.
To help you sleep well and wake up refreshed despite the time change, here are five tips to help your body adjust to daylight saving time.
Five sleep tips for the time change
#1 Adjust your sleep time early
A regular sleep schedule promotes healthy sleep. As we get used to sleeping and waking times, it can be helpful to go to bed a little earlier on the days leading up to the time change. Start by going to bed a quarter of an hour earlier, then half an hour earlier and finally three quarters of an hour earlier. In this way, you will gradually adjust to the missing hour and gently prepare your body for the new sleeping time.
#2 Daylight and exercise in the fresh air
Daylight not only controls the sleep-wake cycle, but also increases the production of the "happiness hormone" serotonin, which is converted into the sleep hormone melatonin in our brain as darkness falls. Therefore, try to spend as much time as possible outdoors, for example by taking long walks or doing sports. Exercise in the fresh air is not only good for your hormone balance, but also gets your circulation going, keeps you healthy and helps you fall asleep in the evening.
#3 Eat your meals earlier
Heavy digestive processes can hinder falling asleep and disrupt sleep. To prevent problems falling asleep, it can help to gradually move your evening meal forward the week before the time change and eat it earlier than before. Plan your last meal of the day at best 3 to 4 hours before bedtime and also avoid caffeinated or high-sugar drinks in addition to heavy, fatty foods.
#4 Give up your afternoon nap
A short nap or power nap at midday are, under normal circumstances, good ways to compensate for an acute lack of sleep and recharge your batteries. But watch out. After the time change, it makes more sense to forgo a daytime nap to increase sleep pressure in the evening and prevent problems falling asleep or lack of sleepiness.
#5 Take time to adjust
Ultimately, our bodies simply need some time to adjust our internal clocks to the new external rhythms and shift in social time structure. Make the transition easier on yourself by not planning too much stress in the days that follow and by not packing your schedule unnecessarily. And even if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep in the evening, don't obsessively try to sleep. This stresses your body even more, promotes the release of cortisol and keeps you awake all the longer.
The time change disrupts our internal clock, which regulates hormone balance and controls our sleep-wake cycle.
Prepare for the time change by bringing your evening meal forward in the days before and gradually going to bed earlier.
Spend plenty of time in daylight and fresh air to support hormone production and promote sleepiness in the evening.
Refrain from taking a midday nap so that sleep pressure increases in the evening and you can fall asleep more easily
Give your body time to adjust and avoid unnecessary appointments, heavy workloads and stress in the first few days.
Best wishes and see you soon!