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Sleep Behavior Circadian Clock/Rhythm Health Tips

Adjusting To The End Of Daylight Savings

8 months, 2 weeks ago

4512  0
Posted on Nov 07, 2023, 2 p.m.

Estimates are that more than 1 in 3 American adults do not get enough sleep, according to the CDC, and the average adult needs at least 7 hours of sleep while some need up to 9 hours, which means spending at least 7.5 hours in bed or more.

Daylight saving time has just ended, now we adjust our clocks to “fall back” an hour, and really that is good news, the end of this period brings us back to a more natural transition for our circadian rhythms than the “spring forward”. This adjustment causes less of a disruption to our body's functions, which includes fewer time change sleep issues. Additionally, the end of daylight savings has also been shown to have a lower risk of heart attacks and vehicle crashes in the week following the reset.

Every year in autumn we reset our clocks to gain an hour, and in spring we lose that hour. Luckily the reset during autumn is easier to adjust to. According to many experts such as Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD, a Mass General Brigham sleep medicine specialist. Dr. Czeisler is chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We’re about to go in the time zone that we should really stay on year-round,” he says.

Our circadian rhythm is a daily cycle for many different functions in our body, and the suprachiasmatic nucleus in our brain controls the timing of these cycles, setting all our internal clocks to a period around 24 hours long. The environment, especially the light-dark schedule, can influence this timing, and a mismatch between time and circadian rhythm leads to greater sleepiness during the day and difficulty sleeping at night. This is why this is the time zone we should stay on all year round, according to experts. 

Some people may need a few days to readjust to the time change/reset, but “falling back” has its benefits. For example, our biology can make it tough to go to bed earlier than our habitual bedtime, and during this time you have the opportunity to consistently add an hour to your sleep.

Try to limit your caffeine, it is also a stimulant that can stay in your system for more than 10 hours. It may be best to avoid caffeine after 2-3 PM or it might interfere with your sleep.

Eat dinner earlier for several days while your body adjusts to avoid eating at a time when your melatonin levels are high which can cause insulin resistance and higher glucose levels. 

Consider wearing a sleep mask if you find yourself waking up too early. Waking up too early after the time change means that you will still be losing an hour of sleep. Wearing a mask or getting curtains that block out the light can help you keep that precious extra hour of sleep.

Don’t squander this chance to get more sleep. Keep going to bed at your usual bedtime to get the extra hour of sleep, and if you are chronically sleep deprived try to make a habit of going to sleep a little bit earlier. While you can’t make up for chronic sleep deficiency in one night, the time change presents a chance to adjust your routine to get an additional hour of sleep every night if you continue to go to sleep an hour earlier than you used to. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

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