Daylight Saving Time can disrupt your sleep and overall well-being. The effects can be far more profound for those living with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and sleep disorders. In fact, it is the position of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that the United States should eliminate seasonal time changes in favor of permanent standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology. According to the AASM’s position statement, evidence supports the distinct benefits of standard time for health and safety, while also underscoring the potential harms that result from seasonal time changes to and from daylight saving time.
“By causing the human body clock to be misaligned with the natural environment, daylight saving time increases risks to our physical health, mental well-being, and public safety,” said lead author Dr. M. Adeel Rishi, who is chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee and a pulmonary, sleep medicine, and critical care specialist at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. “Permanent standard time is the optimal choice for health and safety.”
The position statement was developed by the AASM Public Safety Committee and based on a review of existing literature. It was approved by the AASM board of directors and endorsed by 20 medical, scientific, and advocacy organizations.
Strategies for Daylight Saving Time
Daylight saving time for those with neurological conditions can be challenging, however, there are strategies to help manage them:
Adjustment Bedtime: Gradually change your bedtime schedule by going to bed and waking up 15-30 minutes earlier each day a couple of days before DST. This can help your body adapt more to the time change.
Medication Management: Consult with your neurologist to determine if any adjustments are necessary with your medications during the daylight saving time transition.
Light Exposure: Natural light exposure can help regulate your body’s internal clock. Spend time outdoors in the morning to let your body know that it’s time to wake up.
Maintain a Routine: Stick to a daily schedule, including mealtimes, bedtime, and exercise. A structured routine can help reduce disruptions caused by daylight saving time.
Support and Specialists: For individuals with sleep disorders or other neurological conditions, you may want to consult with your neurologist for guidance and treatment. Caregivers, family members, and friends should be aware of the potential impact of DST on their loved ones with neurological conditions.
Mitigate the Effects of Daylight Saving Time
For those already dealing with sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, DST can exacerbate their issues. Sudden time changes can disrupt the sleep architecture, leading to increased daytime sleepiness and decreased quality of life. These individuals may need to consult with a neurologist or sleep specialist to manage these changes effectively.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia struggle with memory loss and cognitive impairment. The abrupt time change with daylight saving time can disrupt sleep patterns and routines, leading to increased confusion and agitation. Caregivers and family members should pay close attention to their loved ones during this time and offer additional support if necessary.
People with Parkinson’s disease already face difficulties with mobility and sleep disturbances. Daylight saving time can exacerbate these symptoms. Proper medication management, maintaining a consistent schedule, and engaging in light physical activity can help mitigate these effects.
Individuals with multiple sclerosis may experience increased fatigue and exacerbation of their neurological symptoms during daylight saving time. Sleep disruptions can lead to increased pain and cognitive issues. Careful planning and adherence to a consistent daily schedule can help alleviate these concerns.
Patients with epilepsy who rely on consistent sleep patterns to manage their condition may experience an increase in seizures during daylight saving time. Stress and sleep disturbances can trigger seizures. It’s essential for individuals with epilepsy to plan and manage their stress levels during the transition.
Daylight Saving Time can have a considerable impact on individuals living with neurological conditions. The abrupt change in routine, sleep patterns, and light exposure can exacerbate symptoms and disrupt daily life. Taking proactive measures, maintaining consistent routines, and seeking support from specialists, patients, caregivers, and family members can help manage the effects of daylight saving time.
Reference: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)