Effects on sleep after transitioning from Daylight Saving Time

Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 06, 2023

On Sunday, our clocks "fell back" one hour. Not only does this mean less sunlight, but it also has some effects on our sleep patterns.

Sleep physician Timothy Roux talked about some insight on how to stay on track with our sleep even when the clocks change.

He said turning back the clock in the Fall, and going back to standard time, decreases a lot of the health risks that come with turning them forward an hour in the Spring for daylight saving time.

“Every year we conduct an experiment on 1.5 billion people around the world where we deprive everybody of an hour of sleep for a night, and the following day, heart attack risk goes up, stroke risk goes up, car accident risk goes up, industrial accident risk goes up,” said Roux. “In the Fall, when we gain the extra hour, we tend to see some reductions in those metrics.”

Roux recommends gradually shifting daily routines, such as pushing meals to be 15-20 minutes earlier than normal and going to bed 15-20 minutes earlier for a few days before and after the time change. He said this allows our bodies to still follow the social cues that we are in rhythm with, while also adjusting to the change.

“The standard time aligns better with our body’s biological rhythms, the rhythm of the pressure to sleep, the pressure to stay awake are more in sync with standard time than ever with daylight savings time,” said Roux. “There's been a push from the professional sleep associations over the past several years to make standard time the default all-year-round time.”

Dr. Roux also said that people are already chronically sleep deprived so gaining an hour of sleep in the Fall is certainly beneficial; whereas, when we spring forward an hour in the Spring, we are losing another hour of sleep on top of the hours we’re already not getting each night. He said adults should be getting about 7 hours of sleep each night and 8-10 hours each night for kids to be fully functional.

“We have a sleep clinic here at the hospital where we see people with sleep disorders. For people with insufficient sleep syndrome, keeping a diary is always helpful, and there are other ways to help with that,” said Roux.