Sleep Medicine Expert Explains Why Daylight Saving Time is Hard on Body and Mind

With this weekend’s time change, we lost an hour of sleep, which can be tough on body and mind. A local sleep medicine expert says that can be dangerous.
The workweek right after the time shift shows a spike in traffic wrecks, according to Dr. Kimberly Hutchison, an Associate Professor of Neurology and Sleep Medicine at OHSU.

“Throughout this time there are certain tasks that require full concentration.  And if you’re not able to concentrate you’re not able to make good decisions.”

You are more accident prone right now, because your frontal lobes are impaired from losing even just an hour of sleep.  That presents a danger of, “Drowsiness in driving early in the morning, and getting into an accident because you’re not able to focus.”

To get yourself back to normal as soon as possible, here’s what she says we should do in the next few days.

“Not using any screens or devices for at least two hours before your new bedtime.  And if needed wear some blue blocking glasses, and dimming your house lights.”

Her prescription to get you back on track both body and mind asap: involves messages your brain gets about light.

“I would maximize your  management of light.  The best thing would be to expose yourself to early morning sunlight, and bright light, and then decreasing your exposure to light in the evening.”

Dr. Hutchison says it can take a week or even longer to adjust, so give yourself extra time, especially on the road.


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