Sleep Week Tip #1: Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time

Written by
Dr. Michael Breus
Last Updated
March 7, 2022
|
7
min read

 

It’s daylight saving time (DST) again and being deliberate about your sleep has never been more important. That’s why I partnered with Purple to celebrate Sleep Week. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing life-changing sleep tips that can help improve your energy, efficiency, and everyday enjoyment.

A Little About Daylight Savings Time

DST was first instituted in the United States in 1918, but it was so unpopular that it only lasted for seven months before being repealed. During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt reinstituted DST under the title “War Time.” After the war, the United States kept DST, but it caused some confusion, with some states choosing to observe it and others choosing not to. It wasn’t until 1966 that Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to standardize DST across the country, with only Arizona and Hawaii opting out.

How Daylight Savings Time Impacts Health

You might be thinking “What harm can a one-hour adjustment to your routine do?” Well, a recent study linked the spring DST change to a 6% increase in the risk of fatal car accidents nationwide. Other studies have linked the time change to increased risk of heart failure and depression.

How Can You Prepare?

Even if you’re getting the same amount of sleep as before, DST can leave you feeling unusually tired. This is because your body has a natural rhythm that tells you when to sleep and when to wake up, called the circadian rhythm. DST can misalign your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep, even after a full eight hours.

To avoid possible negative effects, I recommend you start adjusting your bedtime by 15 minutes every other day. That way your body will be adjusted to the new bedtime just in time for the shift. For example, if you’re going to lose an hour on Saturday and you normally go to bed at 10 p.m., go to bed at 9:45 the preceding Monday, then 9:30 on Wednesday, and 9:15 on Friday. That way, the switch is easy! Note: Don’t forget to adjust your wake-up time accordingly.

On top of that, I recommend getting out of bed and getting light exposure as promptly as you can in the morning, preferably within 20 minutes of waking up and using natural light. This will help your body register the new wake-up time and allow your circadian clock to adjust more quickly. (We’ll talk more about why that is in later blogs).

To learn more about how to optimize your sleep, check back in every day this week for more of my Sleep Week tips. Sleep well!