Daylight Savings – Does it affect your sleep?

April 9, 2018 Elizabeth Meade, MD

Daylight savings time can absolutely affect sleep, especially if you didn’t prepare for the sudden change – and even more acutely if you have kids in your house who are ruled by their own Circadian rhythms, not what the number on the clock says! If you need to shift your bedtime, or your child’s, know that you won’t get there in one night. We can reliably change our sleep time by about 10-15 minutes each night, so for most people it will take a few nights of the slow shift to get to your goal. 

There are lots of other things we can do to encourage the changeover as well. First, try to get exposure to daylight as soon after waking as possible! Throw open the curtains, take the dog for a walk – this will help your body realize that it’s time to wake up and get going. And don’t hit the snooze button – it isn’t quality sleep and it actually makes you more tired. 

Also, practice good sleep hygiene. Bedrooms should be cool, quiet, and dark. Blackout curtains or a white noise machine can help block out disruptive light or sound, especially for shift workers who may need to sleep during the daytime. 

Most importantly – no screens before bed! This can be the biggest challenge for most people. We should aim for at least an hour of screen-free time before trying to sleep (two hours is ideal). We know that the blue light from electronic devices can alter our sleep patterns and make quality sleep elusive – but even with blue-light blocking apps or dimmed screens, simply using devices before bed can affect sleep as well. All that information and “brain activity” makes it much harder for your brain and body to relax and get ready for restful sleep. If you really have trouble with this one, try charging your phone in a different room. You may need to buy a good old-fashioned alarm clock, but getting that phone out of the bedroom at night can help get your healthy sleep habits on track and lead to sounder, more restful slumber.

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