Last night, daylight saving time started, which means an hour less sleep. How bad is a shorter night and is there a way to join the next day’s zoom meeting in a less surprising way?
“You can compare it to the exhaustion of traveling for an hour,” says Winnie Hofmann, sleep therapist and sleep educator at the University of Amsterdam. Some people are bothered by this more than others. According to Hoffman, this has to do with our circadian rhythm, or the biological clock that ensures we tire at the right time.
“The effect is always”
Bad or not, sleep therapist Mieke den Akker says a shorter night always has an effect. “Some of the processes our sleep cycle must go through might not be completed yet.” If this is the case, it may result in us being nervous the next day and less able to concentrate.
Our circadian rhythm is genetically determined, so we cannot alter it. As we build our need for sleep during the day, people in the morning and evening may experience shorter nights differently. “It’s often less bad for people to wake up in the morning an hour earlier than people wake up an hour earlier in the evening,” says Den Aker.
Plus, our community has been set up for many in such a way that we get to start working at 9 am, although nowadays, with so much work from home in lockdown, that’s something different. “In this regard, there is less regularity throughout the day. You usually go to work in the morning, have a lunch break and come home at the end of the day. Hoffman thinks this deficiency now may have an effect on your sleep.”
Van den Aker does not believe the lockdown should have any effect. “After all, our circadian rhythm is fixed. Lack of regularity or reduced social connections will not change that,” she says. “You may have more opportunities in the evening to calm down your day calmly. If you come home late from a party and drink wine or coffee there, for example, your sleep quality will decrease. “
According to Hoffman, the fact that our circadian rhythm is fixed does not mean that it is not possible to alter our sleep times somewhat within reasonable limits. “The watch also benefits from regularity. By doing this, we help our watch to warn us at a specific time that it is time to sleep.”
Hoffman gives advice to try to build a different sleep rhythm step-by-step when changing the clock. “Start a week in advance, go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night and see if that helps.” Unfortunately, this advice comes a bit late. So Van den Aker advises not to sleep for the next few days. “What also can help is scheduling your meals at the same times. Did you eat at 6 pm every night? Then do that in the new era as well.”
Daylight is also important, Hoffman says. “Light in the morning is very important for our biological clock. The sooner we are exposed to daylight, the better for our routine.” Van den Aker agrees. “Start your day right away with a good portion of daylight, which is best combined with a morning walk. Combining movement with daylight teaches your body that the day begins.”
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