Daylight Saving Time and its impact on your sleep
Daylight Saving Time always begins the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.
This year it will start on March 13th at 2 AM (a full week before the official start of spring on March 20) and it will end on November 6th at 2 AM.
Daylight Saving time is almost here and we “spring forward” one hour. That means you’ll lose an hour of sleep.
Daylight Saving Time is always a welcome early sign of spring. For most of us, however, this one-hour time change can be a painful transition as our body clocks adjust.
It doesn’t sound like much, but one hour can throw our circadian rhythms completely out of order if we don’t take steps to prepare for the impact.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has been for years been calling for a permanent switch to standard time, saying “there is ample evidence of the negative, short-term consequences of seasonal time changes.”
Consider making some small changes to take the pain out of your transition to and from DST. Here’s some suggestions on how you can make the transition a little less jarring for yourself and your family.
So, the best way to avoid these effects is to get ahead on your sleep practices before springing forward. Make sleep health a priority, and you’ll start seeing the positive effects.
This are some recommendations how you can prepare to spring forward one hour ahead of March 13:
Consider going to bed slightly earlier each night the week before time changes. Gradually adjust your sleep and wake times. Shift your bedtime 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night for a few nights before the time change.
Get at least seven hours of sleep (for adults) or eight hours of sleep (for teens) per night before and after the time change.
Adjust other daily routines — such as mealtimes — to match your new schedule prior to the time change.
Set your clocks ahead one hour on Saturday evening, March 13, and go to bed at your normal bedtime.
Get plenty of exercise early in the day as your body adjusts to the new time.
Head outside and get as much as possible of the morning sun for some sunlight on Sunday morning. The bright light will help set your body clock, which regulates the timing of sleep and alertness, plus sunlight boosts your serotonin level, which elevates mood. Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts; sunset comes sooner with the end of DST.
Get plenty of sleep on Sunday night to ensure you’re rested and ready for the week ahead.
Consider taking a short nap (but not too close to your bedtime) for a few days following the transition if you feel daytime drowsiness.
The transition from standard time to Daylight Saving Time doesn’t have to be a painful one. While the debate about its validity today may remain, the fact is that we must continue to deal with its impact on our lives twice a year for the time being.
Also use relaxation techniques to ensure you go to bed at the right time. You can use calming apps or music, light physical activity like yoga or stretches or writing checklists to take tasks off your mind. Clearing one’s mind is sometimes easier said than done, however, find an individualized approach that’s useful. This can be helpful not just in the lead-up to DST, but for those struggling with the adjustment.
It may be difficult to entirely avoid feeling the effects of Daylight Savings Time. Accepting that we all will likely go through an adjustment period is important, as exhausting as the transition may be. So, when the time comes for our clocks to spring forwarded an hour, we hope our recommendations will help cushion the spring.