LOGO 2019
Alarm clock in bed

Don’t Let “Falling Back” Fell Your Sleep Routine

By Kristy Warren

As we get ready to turn the clocks back an hour this Saturday, it's a great time to think about our sleeping habits. Whether it's "falling back" or "springing forward," Daylight Saving Time can have a big impact on our health.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES AN HOUR MAKE?

Both “springing forward” and “falling back” affect more than our sleep. The shift in daylight hours affects everything from our daily activities to our body rhythms and overall health.

Tired woman feeling rundown

When we lose sleep, it affects our concentration, judgment and productivity. Lost sleep can increase our risk of getting into a car accident, suffering a heart attack, or worsening an underlying health issue.


Studies show that the number of people involved in crashes and heart events increases right after the start of Daylight Saving Time, when we “spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep.

On the other hand, when we gain sleep, we find it can positively improve our health and our wellness. But even when we "fall back" in autumn and gain an hour of sleep, we may still struggle to reset to a new routine. 

WHY DOES DST AFFECT OUR HEALTH?

Do you find yourself waking up too early or shuffling around in a Daylight Saving Time (DST) fog after changing the clocks? Have you ever wondered why changing the clocks affects our sleep so much, even though we do so every year?

 

Our bodies are finely tuned to know what to expect in a 24-hour cycle. When we have an established routine, our body knows when it’s time to wake up, eat, get active, and sleep. If you’ve ever had to rotate work shifts or balanced Monday morning with a late-night weekend, you know even a minor shift in this routine throws of our body’s expectations.

The good news is that there are several easy steps you can take to help your body adapt to this change easier and faster to get you back to feeling energized and ready to take on the day! Read on for tips on how to prepare for springing forward and falling back with the seasons. 

HOW TO COMBAT DST FOG:

Prepare in advance. You can overcome a sleep deficit or change in your sleep schedule more quickly by preparing for the change well in advance. For example, when getting ready to spring forward, begin going to bed a little earlier each night in preparation for the lost hour of sleep. Smaller increments of change over a longer period of time more successfully shifts your bedtime than trying to go to bed an hour earlier the night before the clocks change.

 

Eat well and stay hydrated. When your body is struggling to adjust, having a healthy source of fuel and plenty of water helps it recover and adapt to your new routine faster.

Reset with breakfast. Eat a healthy breakfast shortly after getting up; food helps cue your body that it’s time to start the day and prepares you for activity.

Build in extra time. Even when you’ve prepared, the first few days after the change can be hard. Build some extra time into your morning routine to allow yourself ample time to start the day and clear the sleep fog before your commute to school or work.

Let the sunshine in. Sunlight plays a big role in our body’s circadian rhythms—the daily cycle of our physical and mental processes. These rhythms help regulate our sleep-wake cycle: that is, when we should wake up and when we should sleep.


Sunlight tells our bodies it’s time to wake or stay awake, which is why artificial light from screens late at night can disrupt our sleep cycle. Struggling to wake up? Try cracking your blinds so that the light reaches your bed; the sunrise can help you reset your morning routine.

Waking up to sunshine

Take a walk. Healthy activity is a great way to help your body acclimate to your new hours, and a walk in the daylight helps reset your body’s circadian rhythms.  

Turn off the screen well before bed. Avoid late-night exposure to your phone, TV, or laptop screen, which can interfere with your body’s sleeping rhythms from artificial light exposure. Instead, do something calming before bed: take a bath, read a book, meditate, or listen to music.

Make more time for rest. Set yourself up for success by prioritizing a good night's sleep. How much sleep you need depends on your age and individual needs. Most adults function best with 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night. Children typically need more: anywhere from 10 - 13 hours of sleep depending on age, growth, and individual needs.

Having trouble sleeping? Our Laurel Health Center experts can help. Make an appointment at 1-833-LAURELHC to discuss your concerns today.

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