By Dr. Anuj Chandra, Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders
(November 1, 2021)—It’s almost time for the autumn time change… “Spring forward, Fall back.” This year, Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. during the early morning hours of Sunday, November 7. And this one is what everyone thinks of as the “good time change” because we gain an hour so we get another hour of sleep, right? Not so fast!
You will feel better if you DON’T take that extra hour of sleep. That’s one of my five tips for good sleep after the fall time change.
1. Change Your Clock When You Get Up, Not When You Go To Bed
I know it seems totally counterintuitive, but you will sleep better after the time change if you stick to your old clock time on the night the time changes. That means you do not reset your clock when you go to bed, you get up at the old wake-up time, and THEN reset the clock after you get up.
You will miss that extra hour of sleep, but when you go to bed that night you’ll be a little more tired, so you’ll sleep better with your new, fully adjusted time. And Dr. Chandra says your body will thank you.
Any time you change your sleep-wake cycle, your body doesn’t like it and your sleep can be messed up. If you skip that extra hour of sleep, you’re basically giving your body a head start on adjusting to your new schedule.
2. Ease Into the Time Change
Start preparing yourself before the time change is scheduled to happen. Go to bed 15 minutes later than usual for a few days. Gradually increase to 30 minutes later, then an hour later. By getting your body used to the later time, you will be more likely to experience less disruption when the time changes.
3. Enjoy the Sun
As soon as the time changes, get outside into the sunlight as much as you can. It feels good anyway to see the sun in the morning, instead of waking up in the dark, but it also helps reset your internal clock faster. Exposure to light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps make you sleepy at night, and resets your sleep-wake cycle. Reduced sunlight in fall and winter can lead to sleep problems and depression for many people.
4. No Naps!
Even if you feel really tired, resist the urge to nap for a few days after the time change. Napping makes it harder for your body clock to reset, so it works against you in the long run.
5. Turn Off Your Screens
It’s especially important after the time change to turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before you go to bed — phone, tablet, computer, television, game console… everything. The blue-spectrum light that comes from screens reduces your body’s production of melatonin at night, when you need it to help you fall asleep. Also, be sure to switch your electronics to “night mode” after dinner. That makes the light coming from them a little bit less blue.