How to survive Daylight Savings Time

These 6 tips can help you skip the daylight saving time hangover

March 9, 20235:42 AM ET


Early mornings may still feel dark and wintry, but the season is about to change. This weekend most of the U.S. will “spring forward” — setting clocks forward one hour — as daylight saving time begins.

Maja Hitij/Getty Images

As clocks march ahead and daylight saving time begins this weekend, you may be anxious about losing an hour of sleep and how to adjust to this change.

Even though it’s technically just one hour lost due to the time change, the amount of sleep deprivation due to disrupted sleep rhythm lasts for many days and often throws people off schedule, leading to cumulative sleep loss.

Many studies have demonstrated that there is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure associated with sleep deprivation. Workplace injuries increase and so do automobile accidents. Adolescents often find it harder to wake up in time to get to school and may have difficulties with attention and school performance or worsening of mental health problems.

Is there something to be done to help to deal with this loss of sleep and change of body clock timing?

Of course.

We lead a sleep evaluation center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and regularly see patients who are dealing with sleep loss and whose internal clocks are not synchronized with external time. Our experience has shown us that it’s important to prepare, as much as possible, for the time shift that occurs every spring.

Here are some quick tips to prepare yourself for the time shift.

Don’t start with a “sleep debt”

Ensure that you and, if you’re a parent, your child get adequate sleep regularly, especially leading up to the time change each year. Most adults need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep daily to perform adequately. Children have varying requirements for sleep depending on their age.

Earlier to bed — and to rise

Going to bed — and for parents, putting your kids to bed — 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night in the week before the time change is ideal. Having an earlier wake time can help you get to sleep earlier.

Try to wake up an hour earlier than is customary on Saturday, the day before the time change. If you aren’t able to make changes to your sleep schedule in advance, then keep a very consistent wake time on weekdays as well as weekends to adjust to the time change more easily.

Use light to your advantage

Light is the strongest cue for adjusting the internal body clock. Expose yourself to bright light upon waking as you start getting up earlier in the week before daylight saving time starts. This resets your internal clock in the right direction. If you live in a place where natural light is limited in the morning after clocks change, use bright artificial light to signal your body clock to wake up earlier. As the season progresses, this will be less of an issue as the sun rises earlier in the day.

At night, minimize exposure to bright light and especially the blue light emitted by the screens of electronic media. This light exposure late in the day can be enough to shift your body rhythm and signal your internal clock to wake up later the next day. If your devices permit, set their screens to dim and emit less blue light in the evening.

In some geographic locations, it might be helpful to have room-darkening curtains at bedtime depending on how much sunlight your room gets at bedtime. Be sure to open the curtains in the morning to allow the natural morning light to set your sleep-wake cycle.

Carefully plan day and evening activities.

The night before the time change, set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by incorporating relaxing activities that can help you wind down, such as reading a book or meditating.

Incorporate exercise in the morning or early in the day. Take a walk, even if it is just around the house or your office during the day.

Pay more attention to what you eat and drink this week

Consider starting with a protein-heavy breakfast, since sleep deprivation can increase appetite and craving for high-carbohydrate foods and sugars.

Stop using caffeine after noon. Consuming coffee, tea, cola, chocolate or other sources of caffeine too late in the day can lead to trouble falling asleep and even disrupt sleep.

Adults, decline that wine at bedtime. Wine and other kinds of alcohol can also disturb sleep.

Be especially gentle with yourself and the kids

If you’re a parent or caregiver, try to be patient with your kids as they adjust to the new times. Sleep deprivation affects the entire family, and some kids have a harder time adjusting to the time change than others. You may notice more frequent meltdowns, irritability and loss of attention and focus. Set aside more quiet, electronic media-free time in the evening. Consider a brief — 20 minutes or so — nap in the early afternoon for younger children who are having a difficult time dealing with this change. Prioritizing sleep pays off in the short term and over the years. A good night’s sleep is a necessary ingredient for a productive and fulfilling day.

Deepa Burman is codirector of the Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center and an associate professor of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh. Hiren Muzumdar directs the Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.

This is an updated and slightly shorter version of an article originally published in The Conversation in 2019.

From the New York Times Wirecutter

 Your daylight saving time survival guide by Dana Davis
In the US, daylight saving time (DST) will start tomorrow at 2 a.m. (Wait, why do we change the clocks, anyway?) Waking up and falling asleep can be hard enough as it is—the added challenge of darker mornings, brighter evenings, and jet-lag-like symptoms can make sleeping that much more difficult.‌

The DST shift is more than just that, though: By moving one hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, you’re disrupting your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that’s governed by your body’s internal clock.‌

Here are some concrete steps you can take to mitigate the effect that DST has on you, and many of them are habits that lead to good sleep year-round. We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more ›
 Try relaxation aidsMichael MurtaughTurning in earlier than usual is likely to require some active effort and planning. Implementing things that will help you relax as you get ready for bed can help. A weighted blanket can feel like a giant hug easing you to sleep. A white noise machine can mask intrusive sounds that may be keeping you awake. And you might try a meditation app with programs specifically designed to lull you to sleep.
 Control light Sarah KobosBecause daylight saving time shifts an hour of sunlight later in the day, you should control the amount of light in your room as you settle in for bed. Use an eye mask or blackout curtains to block out light.‌
Relatedly, blue light specifically interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms because blue wavelengths during the day boost mood, attention, and reaction times—all things you need to quiet down as you’re getting ready for bed. Cutting down on screen time and wearing blue light glasses may help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the day.
 Set the temperature just rightMichael HessionTemperature is another trigger for sleep. The optimal bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. One way you can fool your body into sleepiness is to adjust the temperature a little earlier in the night. If you have a smart thermostat in your home, you can program it to start cooling down your home (or just the room you sleep in) at earlier hours in the evening. Taking a hot bath or shower before bed can also drop your body temperature quickly and send your system into sleep mode.
 Work on your wake-upDana DavisTo combat the groggy darkness of mornings during DST, the best thing to do is to get light into your room as soon as possible. You can do this by using a sunrise alarm clock, which can shine a dawn-like light directly into your sleepy face.
If getting up is a major problem, it could be that you’re attempting to wake up during the worst part of your sleep cycle—deep sleep, as opposed to lighter REM sleep. To address this, you might try using a sleep-tracking app, which can monitor your sleep cycles and wake you at an optimal moment. Or try these 8 expert tips for waking up on time.
 Get outside and get movingKyle FitzgeraldOne way to get your body clock in tune with the sun is to simply get out into the light. A good dose of sunlight, even if it’s just for 15 minutes first thing in the morning, can help your body wake up and reset for the day ahead.‌
Exercise is a great tool, too. It resets your circadian rhythm and promotes a smoother sleep and wake schedule. A 2019 study showed that exercising either at 7 a.m. or between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. advances the body clock, which makes it easier for you to start your day earlier. We have all the exercise gear you could ever need here.
 We’ll be using these tomorrowThe LectroFan EVO white noise machineHonking, dripping, ticking, and snoring stand no chance against our favorite white noise machine.The Nidra Deep Rest eye maskSleep in sweet, sweet darkness with the best eye maskThe Baratza Encore Burr coffee grinderIf none of this advice works, there’s always coffee

Good luck tomorrow. Here’s to longer days ahead.

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