Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time


In January, your new year’s resolution was to get better sleep. You got a new sleeptracker and maybe even a weighted blanket. You got the kids to bed earlier andavoided watching endless YouTube videos afterwards. You began to enjoy the extrasleep time you created, feeling more energetic and in a better mood during the day. Because you noticed the benefits of attention to your sleep, you felt confident that 2022 would indeed be the year of good sleep. Then March rolls around. More specifically, at 2:00am on March 13th, 2022, we start the annual ritual of moving ourclocks forward one hour, as we switch to Daylight Saving Time.

Losing one hour seems innocent enough. What difference could that really make? Plus,the time change “event” occurs in the middle of the night, so unlike the Times Square ball drop at New Year’s, it mostly passes without our awareness. But afterwards it’s apparent: the fatigue, difficulty concentrating at work, and noticing you’re annoyed atthe smallest things. You may feel like you’ve just hit a roadblock in your efforts to sleep well.

Scientists understand what you’re feeling. In fact, they’ve concluded that the move into Daylight Saving Time causes significant risks to public health and safety. The timechange is more than just a change in time, it is a disruption to the internal clock that isyour biological rhythm. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) wrote a paper in 2020 calling for the end of Daylight Saving Time altogether. The AASM recommends that permanent Standard Time (the time we are in from November to March) is more natural for this internal biological rhythm. In their paper, they document the negative consequences of this time change, which include increases in:

  • Cardiovascular events like stroke, heart attack, and atrial fibrillation
  • Emergency room visits and return visits to the hospital
  • Unhealthy bodily changes, like an increase in one of the signs of inflammation,higher heart rate, and blood pressure
  • Sleep disruption, mood disturbances, and even suicide
  • Traffic accidents, with a significant increase in fatal car crashes 

If the health consequences aren’t convincing enough, the paper notes that one study found volatility in US stock markets on the Monday after the spring transition, perhaps caused by sleep deprivation affecting judgment and decision making. 

So, after learning that the time change is not so innocent, especially as it relates to your good sleep goals, what can you do? You could participate in advocacy. Because this change requires legislation, you can contact your lawmakers and voice your concern. As you do this, don’t forget that sleep professionals recommend not just an end to the time change, but an end to Daylight Saving Time, which would put us all into a healthier biological rhythm permanently. 

You can also consider the following recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: 

  • In the next week, try to maximize your sleep time, if you can, so that you are getting the amount of sleep that you need, with a consistent sleep schedule.The idea is that you want to face the time change with your sleep in the best condition possible (just like you would try to be extra healthy before a race or athletic event). It’s better not to go into the time change sleep deprived or withan inconsistent sleep schedule.
  • Several nights before the time change, gradually shift your bed and wake time earlier in 15-minute increments. This may go easier if you also start your winddown of activities and technology use earlier, as well.
  • Along with shifting your sleep time earlier, try to shift your daytime activities earlier, such as eating your meals, going into work, or walking your dog. This helps your biological clock to shift earlier, which will make the time change less dramatic.
  • On the day of the time change, set your clocks ahead one hour, and then go to bed at your normal time.
  • On the morning after the time change, get some sunlight on Sunday morning. Perhaps this would be the day to take a walk or plan a hiking trip. This helps to shift and set your biological clock earlier.
  • On Sunday night, go to bed at your regular time. Avoid skimping on sleep, so that you enter the week as well-rested as possible.
  • For the rest of the week, continue to place high priority on getting enough sleep,because your internal clock may still be adjusting. 

Please note, if you are one of the many people with chronic sleep problems, then following these steps may be easier said than done. In fact, adjusting to the timechange can be more difficult and take longer for those with sleep problems. If that’s the case for you, it may be time to talk with your doctor about your sleep. 

The time change can pass by before you know it, so if you follow us on Twitter, we cansend out gentle reminders that the time change is coming. After all, 2022 can be the year when the time change doesn’t blindside or derail you. There’s still plenty of time to make 2022 a year of good sleep!​ 

Authors:  SBSM Outreach and Public Education Committee