Falling Back Gracefully: A Blueprint for Adjusting to Daylight Savings Time
Mark your calendar for Sunday, November 5th, because it’s time to “fall back” and gain an extra hour as daylight saving time ends. Though it might sound like a chance to catch up on some sleep, this shift in time can have a surprising impact on your health and well-being.
When is the end of daylight saving time 2023?
This season’s turnover time is 2:00 a.m. on Nov. 5, meaning residents of most states will want to move their clocks back an hour when they go to bed this Saturday.
Two states — Hawaii and Arizona — don’t observe daylight saving time. The U.S. territories of Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands also don’t change their clocks.
So why are medical experts sounding the alarm about the biannual clock change?
Studies show that toggling between daylight saving, and standard time isn’t just a minor inconvenience—it can pose serious health risks. There’s ongoing debate in Congress about making daylight saving time permanent to avoid these risks. In March 2022, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act. The intent behind the bill was to make daylight saving time permanent starting in spring of 2023.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine however suggests that aligning with standard time which is closer to the sun’s day and night cycle is better for our natural rhythms and overall health.
Dr. Adrian Pristas, the Director of Sleep Medicine at Hackensack Meridian, shares how our bodies are designed to shut down when night falls and to wake up to light. The effects of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, is delayed by exposure to excessive light in the evening, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
The switch to daylight saving time is linked to a surge in heart issues, atrial fibrillation, and car accidents, as our bodies grapple with the one-hour shift. And when we return to standard time, shift workers face longer hours, which can take a toll on their health.
Adjusting to daylight savings time can be challenging for many people.
Here are some tips to help ease you the transition:
- Gradual Adjustment: Start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before the time change. Shift your bedtime and wake time by 15 minutes each day until you reach the new time.
- Light Exposure: Light is a powerful cue for our internal clocks. In the mornings, expose yourself and your kids to bright light to help wake up the body. Similarly, in the evenings, dim the lights and avoid screens an hour before bedtime to signal to the body that it’s time to wind down
- Consistent Sleep Routine: Stick to a consistent bedtime routine. This could include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or other relaxing activities. Consistency helps signal to the body that it’s time to sleep.
- Healthy Sleep Environment: Ensure the bedroom is conducive to sleep. It should be cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains to block out early morning light or noise-cancelling devices if there is noise pollution.
- Limit Caffeine and Heavy Meals: Avoid caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime as they can disrupt sleep. Instead, opt for a light snack if you’re hungry.
- Stay Active: Regular physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. However, try to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
- Nap Wisely: If you or your children are very tired, a short nap (20-30 minutes) can help. But avoid long naps or napping late in the day as it can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Be Patient and Flexible: It might take a few days to a week for the body to fully adjust to the new time. Be patient with yourself and your kids during this transition.
Remember, it’s normal to need about a week to adjust. But if sleep issues persist, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance. With a bit of planning and these tips, your family can smoothly transition through the end of daylight-saving time, ensuring everyone stays healthy, rested, and ready for the days ahead.
For more inquiries on the best ways to improve the quality of sleep for your child and yourself, access the health library.