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How to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time (November 2021 Update)

by Relax Melodies
Feb 26 • 4 min read

It’s that time of year again when we all complain about losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time. It turns out springing ahead an hour isn’t just annoying, it can actually have a big impact on your sleep which in turn affects your safety and health. Before daylight saving time gets a chance to mess with your sleep again this year, let us help you figure out the best steps to minimize the damage to your shut-eye.

The impact of daylight saving time on sleep and health

In the spring we move the clocks forward an hour to start daylight saving time. This has the effect of making it lighter in the evening and darker in the morning. Following the lead of Great Britain and Germany, the U.S. instituted daylight saving time in 1918. Shifting daylight from the morning to the evening was intended to save energy as most people would not need electricity until an hour later at night and would still be sleeping during the darker morning hour.

Unfortunately, this has had some unintended consequences:

  • The spring time change means an hour less of sleep and a disruption to your circadian rhythms. It can take your body a whole week to get back to its normal sleep patterns.
  • Strokes are more likely to occur in the week after moving the clock forward.
  • The daylight saving time change in the spring can increase the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines.
  • People miss more medical appointments in the week after springing ahead.

Six potted plants and cactuses with flowers.

How to counteract the disruption of spring daylight saving time

Changing time by an hour clearly has an impact on when and how well we sleep. The good news is that we have some actionable strategies that will help you minimize these negative effects:

  • Start going to bed a little bit earlier each night several nights before the clock change. You’ll bank extra sleep and be more well-rested for the week after daylight saving. To keep you on track with an adjusted sleep schedule, use the bedtime reminder feature on Relax Melodies.
  • To keep you on track with an adjusted sleep schedule, you can use the bedtime reminder feature on the Relax Melodies app. If you find it difficult to fall asleep earlier, try some of the other features on the app, like the meditations, breathing exercises, and guided body-mind exercises to help you drift off more easily.
  • If the time change leaves you feeling sleepy, try taking a short nap in the early afternoon, around 2 or 3 pm. Avoid napping for more than 10 to 30 minutes; longer naps will leave you feeling groggy and make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Get outside and in the sun early in the day. Research indicates that exposure to the sun during the day, especially in the morning, leads to better sleep quality.
  • Exercise during the day can also make it easier to fall asleep earlier at night.
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch. Even if you normally have coffee or tea in the afternoon with no issues, go easy in the week after daylight saving time starts.
  • Maintain your usual wake-up time in the morning on Monday and for the rest of the week. Resist the temptation to sleep in by an hour.

Daylight saving time can really mess with sleep patterns. With these easy steps, you can minimize the damage and avoid some of the more significant impacts of the time change. Who knows, this year you might actually enjoy the extra hour of sun in the afternoon and the vitamin D it provides!

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