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Saving Daylight, Losing Sleep

Photo courtesy of alexkerhead/Flickr

When the time came to “spring forward” this year, I was really underprepared. And by underprepared, I mean I had no idea until the day before the switch, when I happened to catch a snippet about daylight saving time on the morning news.

“Oh no,” I thought. “This is the one where the clocks skip ahead, isn’t it?”

And just like that, by no fault of my own, I lost a precious hour of shuteye, which somehow threw off my entire sleep schedule. Despite suffering through a string of restless nights, I powered through my days with extra caffeine and sugar — which, of course, led to more restless nights. I didn’t realize how much the whole ordeal had affected me until the end of last week, when I was so wiped out that locking the deadbolt seemed like a huge and unnecessary expenditure of energy.

I slept 11 hours Friday night and awoke Saturday morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Surely I had made up for the previous week’s lack of restful sleep. Turns out, that oh-so-wonderful feeling you get when you (finally!) get to sleep in on the weekend after a long, sleep-deprived week is just that: a feeling.

According to a sleep study performed a couple of years ago, the idea that humans can “bank” sleep on one night to make up for another night’s deficit is a complete myth. In fact, it is possible to feel rested on the weekend even if your body is actually suffering from the effects of chronic sleep deprivation — including impaired concentration and weakened immunity.

Experts say you can ease the transition by adjusting your bedtime by a few minutes each night starting several days before the time change. I say, who the heck has the time and patience for that? Since I obviously missed the boat on that solution, I found a list that includes several additional tips on how to find your rest rhythm once more. Take a look — and then take a nap.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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