ADHD and Daylight Savings Time
An estimated 25-50% of people with ADHD experience sleep problems, ranging from insomnia to secondary sleep conditions. A lack of sleep typically exacerbates the symptoms of ADHD - focus, impulse control, and memory just to name a few.
As we approach the end of daylight savings time and prepare to turn our clocks back, it is important to know the impact this time change may have on your sleep.
An article in Every Day Health provides some information you should consider:
"While some people celebrate daylight saving time (DST) and the extra hours of sunlight that follow, the time change and its known effects on sleep can be especially challenging for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
" “DST causes a small phase shift in our circadian rhythm,” also known as the body’s internal clock, says Timothy B. Sullivan, MD, the chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. “This affects all of us, but some people are more impacted than others, including people with ADHD,” he says.
"What’s more, many adults and children with ADHD regularly deal with sleep disturbances year-round, according to a study published in June 2016 in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. And DST can make this worse.
"The good news? There are several strategies people with ADHD can try to help offset the effect of DST on their symptoms and routines. It may be a trial-and-error process to find what works best. But if DST causes severe sleep issues for you, or if your sleep schedule hasn’t returned to normal within a few days, reach out to your doctor for help,” Dr. Sullivan advises.
Spend Some Time Outdoors
“Lace up your sneakers! Time in nature prior to DST can help everyone adjust before the clocks shift forward — and people with ADHD are no exception. “This helps your body sync its circadian rhythms with the shifting sunlight and also boosts the body's natural melatonin production to help with evening sleep,” Dr. Cook says.
“A study published in December 2021 in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that exposure to outdoor light reduced depression risk, helped participants feel happier, made it less difficult to wake up in the morning, and decreased tiredness, among other benefits. Researchers found that each additional hour spent outside during daytime strengthened these benefits.
Tell Your Loved Ones if You’re Struggling
“If you find that DST upends your routine in the days or weeks that follow, it can be helpful to let your family, friends, or coworkers know. “Give people a heads-up if you know you tend to derail the week following the shift,” Cook advises.
“People who don’t face particular challenges related to DST may not be aware that others do, so communicate with those around you that you’re struggling, and they'll better understand your situation and support you as needed.”