Aspirus Media Center

Tips to Spring Forward to Daylight Saving Time

National Sleep Awareness Week is March 12-18

3/8/2023

Kate Blaubach, Aspirus Polysomnographic Technologist

When Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins on March 12, people across the country will set their clocks forward and lose an hour of slumber. As the sun begins to set later in the evening and the sight of spring peeks through after the long winter months, one hour of sleep seems like an easy trade-in.

 

However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) warns that the one-hour loss can throw off the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and have negative health and safety effects in the days that follow. The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that is closely aligned with the sun’s daily cycle. It regulates sleep and other key bodily functions such as body temperature, appetite, digestion, and mood. During DST,the local clock time changes, but the timing of sunrise and sunset remains the same. This causes a misalignment between your body clock, the sun time, and local clock time.

 

“An abruption to the circadian rhythm can affect physical, mental, and behavioral processes. For the body to reset each day and receive high quality sleep, our internal clock relies on the light-darkness cycle to release a hormone that makes the body feel tired and sleepy called melatonin,” says Kate Blaubach, Aspirus Polysomnographic Technologist. “On the days leading up to the time change, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene.”

The AASM suggests taking the following steps to help your body prepare for the time change:

 

  • Get at least seven hours of sleep (for adults) or eight hours of sleep (for teens) per night before and after the time change. You can use the AASM’s bedtime calculator to identify an appropriate nightly bedtime.
  • Gradually adjust your sleep and wake times. Shift your bedtime 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night for a few nights before the springtime change, or 15 to 20 minutes later each night for a few nights before the fall time change. (If you are experiencing chronic insufficient sleep, you should avoid shifting your bedtime later before the fall time change; you will benefit from getting an “extra” hour of sleep on the night when you “fall back” to standard time.)
  • Adjust other daily routines — such as mealtimes — to match your new schedule prior to the time change.
  • Set your clocks to the new time on Saturday evening and go to bed at your normal bedtime.
  • Use light and darkness to help your body adjust. In the spring, head outside for some sunlight on Sunday morning and dim the lights in the evening. In the fall, minimize light exposure until your target morning wake time. Adjusting your exposure to light and darkness will help set your body clock, which regulates the timing of sleep and alertness.
  • Get plenty of sleep on Sunday night to ensure you’re rested and ready for the week ahead.

If you continue to feel fatigued long after the time change, ask your health care provider if a sleep study is needed to determine whether you have a sleep disorder. Several Aspirus locations offer overnight sleep studies. For more information, call 800-817-2363.

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