In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the time changes again: the hand advances one hour, and daylight saving time begins. Means: Many of us can do a lap in the light after work. But especially in the first few days it can happen that you have to yawn courageously in between.
After all: “Many people manage the time change without any problems.” That is the assessment of the sleep doctor Kneginja Richter, chief physician at the Curamed day clinic in Nuremberg and professor at the Technical University of Nuremberg.
A week of mini jet lag
But some people feel the stolen hour after all – and clearly. They can hardly open their eyes in the morning and drag themselves lazily through the day. A condition that can last for a week and is comparable to mini jet lag.
But why do some people take the time change so badly? This can be because the internal clock does not match the external clock.
“People invented the clock to structure their activities,” says Kneginja Richter. But: If we were to follow our sleep-wake rhythm completely independently of times, it would be longer or shorter than 24 hours for many people.
“With the time change now to summer time, the people who suffer the most are those who have a longer sleep-wake cycle than the 24-hour cycle,” says the sleep doctor. If the internal clock assumes a 25-hour day anyway, another hour that is missing carries all the more weight.
But even those who tend to sleep badly anyway may find it harder to cope with the time change. Age can also play a role in this. “From the age of 55, the pineal gland in the brain releases less melatonin, the sleep hormone,” says Richter. This can be a risk factor for sleep disorders – and thus make you more sensitive to the time change.
Our expectations can also affect how well we handle the start of daylight saving time. Because the time change does not come out of nowhere – it creates it in our consciousness days in advance.
“And if we know that we react sensitively to it, we may program ourselves: Oh, I’ll sleep badly this week, too,” says Richter. This thought can stress us so much that we find it difficult to rest.
Soak up the light and sunshine
Looking at the time change with a little more composure is a start. And there are other tips. For example, going to bed a quarter of an hour earlier every day before the time change – and also setting the alarm clock a little earlier. “In this way you can slowly adapt to the new times,” says Kneginja Richter.
Another tip from the sleep doctor: “Light, light, light. Because the more light we get during the day, the more energy we feel and the easier it is for us to deal with problems like the time change.” All the more reason to go out after work and catch a few rays of sunshine.