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Daylight Saving Time: How to Sleep Better?
Lifestyle

Daylight Saving Time: How to Sleep Better?

Tara Youngblood · Feb 24, 2022
Daylight Saving Time: How to Sleep Better?

It’s that time of year again, daylight savings 2022! 

The seasons are changing, the days feel different, and the anticipation builds for change—and then we remember that Daylight Saving Time is upon us.

This can be a miserable moment or smooth series of changes, but it all depends on your tools for coping.

Whether losing an hour (“falling back”) or gaining an hour ("springing forward") Daylight Saving Time has a significant impact on all of our sleep patterns and health. 

Before we discuss the ways to improve your sleep for daylight savings, let’s discuss the “why” and “when.” 

Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time

The idea behind Daylight Saving Time is to take advantage of more natural sunlight during the day over the summer months. Moving the clocks ahead one hour each March, countries located in the northern hemisphere can receive more sunlight on a daily basis. And the farther you are from the equator, the more sunlight you’ll gain during Daylight Saving Time.

There is research that also shows a reduction in crime thanks to Daylight Saving Time, and in its early years, it was championed to conserve energy, though today research is unclear whether or not that is still true in a post-industrial society. 

When Does Daylight Saving Time Occur?

A common question is “What times does Daylight Saving Time start” or When is Daylight Savings?” Though the specific date is unique every year, Daylight Saving Time always starts at 2 am on the second Sunday in March, and ends on the first Sunday in November at 2 am (we’re referring to the United States in this case).

The idea behind switching in the dead of night on the weekend is to cause as little disruption in our lives as possible. During daylight hours this may be the case—by doing it this way it doesn’t interfere with work, for example—but this biannual disruption of our circadian rhythm wreaks havoc on our nighttime schedule.

Here's how you can hack Daylight Saving Time to sleep better.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s going to disrupt your sleep, and for most people, it’s a matter of how much, and not avoiding or ignoring the time change altogether.

How to Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

Another common question is “do we sleep more or less during daylight savings?” Well, we actually lose an hour. Adjusting to Daylight Savings time is different for everyone. Some are fortunate to adjust in a few days, while it may take longer for others. Below are some helpful tips for dealing with the time change. 

Change Your Sleeping Schedule 

Since we’re manipulating it for Daylight Saving Time, it’s bound to affect us since light has a significant impact on our circadian rhythm, which is also known as our sleep/wake cycle. Basically, our brains are trained to desire sleep at nightfall and are ready to wake up when the sun rises. 

The change of one-hour change in light really throws us off. So the best way to sleep better when dealing with Daylight Saving Time is to start winding your schedule back in advance. 

Gradually Alter Your Bedtime Schedule 

For example, if you consistently go to bed at 10 pm each night, five days before Daylight Saving Time you can start dividing that hour into five equal chunks. On the first day go to sleep 12 minutes early, the second night 12 minutes earlier, ultimately doing the same for the next three days. That way you’re easing into that first Sunday in November instead of doing it all at once.

Adjust Your Bedtime Schedule

If 10 pm is your usual bedtime, your schedule would look like this:

  • March 8: Go to bed at 9:48 pm
  • March 9: Go to bed at 9:36 pm
  • March 10: Go to bed at 9:24 pm
  • March 11: Go to bed at 9:12 pm
  • March 12: Go to bed at 9:00 pm

This way, you’ve effectively spread out the transition between new and old schedules over a few days, instead of biting the bullet and doing it all at once. It’s not necessarily a cure-all for better sleep, but it has the potential to be much less disruptive.

Tired Daylight Savings

Avoid Naps or Keep Them Short

People who experience a lack of sleep caused by daylight savings may find comfort by taking a brief nap during the day. It's recommended that the nap shouldn't exceed 20 minutes. You may wake up feeling more run down and groggy. 

Tip: Try not to take a nap too close to bedtime.

Avoid Stimulating Substances

Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can interfere with sleep for specific individuals. Try to avoid a few hours before bedtime (4-6 hrs). Regarding tobacco, it too should be avoided close to bedtime.  

 Tip: Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day or evening

 Read More: Does Alcohol Affect My Sleep 

Exercise Early in the Day

Exercise early to force your body to “accept” the time change. Moderate activity and exercise during the day can help you sleep better. Whether it's walking, running, or yoga exercises, it's been proven to help promote good sleep. Start slow (30 minutes) a few times a week and then add more time. Try not to exercise too close to bedtime.

Keep Your Bed Cool at Night

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Final Thoughts

While the scheduling technique described above is our favorite hack for adjusting to the spring time change, there are other things you can do to help you sleep better including:

  • Don’t eat too late in the evening
  • Utilize sleep apps

Let’s face it: it’s nice to get all that extra sunlight from March through November, but the bottom line is that the weekends we have to adjust for Daylight Saving Time can be rough.

While we stand by winding your schedule back a few days before as a helpful technique, we know it’s not easy. Many people struggle to have a set sleep schedule. It's even harder entering a weekend when we often stray from that schedule anyway for a night out on the town.

Since we’re all headed for an unavoidable interruption, following the above tips has the potential to help you avoid the post-Daylight Savings Time malaise.

About the Author

Tara Youngblood

Tara Youngblood

Tara Youngblood is ChiliSleep’s co-founder and CEO. An accomplished scientist, author, and speaker, Tara’s unique ideas are revolutionizing the future of sleep health by making sleep easy, approachable, and drug-free.
Learn more about Tara.

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