Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time Changes

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 31, 2018

Make the shock to your body clock and sleep regimen more gradual.

Every spring, we move our clocks forward one hour, after moving backwards in the fall. Adjusting back to Standard Time in the fall is usually easier than the spring switch, since you are gaining an extra hour of sleep. But early-risers face dark mornings, and we all see the sun set earlier. Some people find themselves falling asleep earlier at night and waking up before they’ve had enough sleep, notes Robert Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and author of "Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day." It's also possible you'll fall asleep easily but have a hard time waking up. How do you adjust when you fly west into a later time zone? The change is similar.

In general, it takes about a day to adjust to a change of one hour in either direction, but people vary quite a bit. Stick to the basics of good sleep habits. Avoid blue-light sources such as computers, cell phones, and iPads at least 90 minutes before bedtime, and if you wake up during the night. Stay away from caffeine after noon and alcohol close to bedtime. Exercise several hours before bedtime. Wear ear plugs and eye masks, if needed, to shield yourself from noise and lights.


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Some argue that we’d be best off keeping Daylight Saving Time year-round, avoiding both switches. One study using national data on traffic fatalities estimated that year-round Daylight Saving Time would reduce pedestrian deaths by 13 percent from 5 to 10 a.m. and from 4 to 9 p.m. Deaths of people in cars would drop 3 percent during those hours, the researchers estimate. Elected officials in a dozen states have considered legislation to opt out of the national time switches, by remaining permanently on daylight saving time or standard time.

This past March, Florida passed the "Sunshine Protection Act," in effect asking Congress to allow it to keep Daylight Saving Time year-round. The other possibility would be a new regulation from the U.S. Department of Transportation, permitting the switch.

Neither happened, so Floridians will be turning their clocks back November 4, along with most of the nation.

Following Florida's lead, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) proposed skipping the fall switch back permanently nationwide. He said it would help his state's agriculture, cut traffic accidents, and encourage people to exercise more.

Benjamin Franklin first proposed moving clocks, as a way to save on candles, and ithe nation adopted the practice during both world wars to save energy for the military effort.

In "Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time," David Prerau explains the current logic. Giving people an extra hour of light for their drive home cuts down on traffic accidents. Also, because crime is more common at dusk than dawn, it's good to get people off the streets before dark.


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October 31, 2018

Reviewed By:  

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA