Whether you’re a fan or not, the arrival of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is inevitable. Initiated in 1966 to save energy, DST has been adopted across the United States, excluding Hawaii, Arizona, and certain U.S. territories. This event occurs on the second Sunday of March each year, when clocks move forward by an hour, only to revert in November. Despite being a longstanding tradition, the shift still manages to disrupt our routines.

The Impact of an Hour on Sleep

Is losing an hour of sleep really that impactful on our daily functioning and mood? Absolutely. Our internal clock, or circadian rhythm, controls a 24-hour cycle of sleep, mood, and bodily functions. Altering our sleep patterns and the balance of light and dark we’re exposed to can disturb this rhythm, impairing our sleep quality. In the days following DST, it’s common for individuals to lose up to 40 minutes of sleep nightly. Given the importance of sleep for overall health, adjusting can be more challenging for some than others. If you find DST transitions tough, consider the following advice.

Establish a Regular Schedule: Aim for at least 7 hours of solid sleep each night. A consistent bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. If you find your mind racing at bedtime, try reading a book instead of screen time.

Ease Into the Change: Gradually adjusting your sleep schedule before DST can help. Start by waking up 15-20 minutes earlier than usual in the days leading up to the change. Then, the day before DST begins, set your alarm 15-20 minutes earlier than that. This gradual adjustment can ease the transition.

Seek Natural Light: Regardless of DST, outdoor activity promotes better sleep. Daylight signals your body’s internal clock, helping regulate sleep patterns. Aim for a daily walk in the sunlight, especially in the days leading up to the time change.

Mind Your Caffeine Intake: Enjoy your morning coffee but consider limiting caffeine in the afternoon if you’re experiencing sleep issues. Research indicates consuming caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime can hinder sleep onset. Protecting your sleep cycles is key.

Limit Naps: Feeling sleep-deprived during DST might tempt you to nap longer during the day, which can disrupt nighttime sleep. If you need a daytime boost, keep naps to 20 minutes or less.

As DST approaches, be aware of your body’s needs and take proactive steps to ensure you’re getting the rest you need. Concerned about sleep? Our Sleep Center is here to assist patients with sleep challenges and improve night-time rest. Contact your doctor to explore more.

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