Iowa Sleep Blog

Adjusting for Daylight Saving Time

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

With the month of March just beginning, many of us have begun dreaming of spring and with that comes the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, when clocks are adjusted one hour ahead. Daylight Saving Time was officially instituted in the U.S. in 1942, starting the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in November, to better utilize the natural daylight by moving one hour from the morning to the evening. Although it is observed in over 70 countries worldwide, many countries set their own schedules for when to “spring forward and fall back.” In the U.S., Hawaii and parts of Arizona do not observe DST.

The change in time affects everyone differently and may take a couple days to get used to. Here are a few ways you can adjust your body this week to make the time change this weekend easier:

Tuck in and rise earlier. Begin teaching your body on Wednesday or Thursday of this week to adjust for the new time change. Start slow, like going to bed each night and setting your alarm each morning ahead 10-15 minutes. Making small adjustments a couple days before will help make the real change not so harsh on your body. To make the change in bedtime easier, try a couple of these relaxation tips to help prepare your body to fall asleep. 

Limit technology use before bed. While this is important to do every night, it is especially key when adjusting to a new time. Turn off the TV, power down your computer and turn over your phone at least 45 minutes before settling in. The blue light that is emitted by these devices has a strong alerting effect, making it difficult to tell your body to sleep. Getting in the habit of limiting your technology use before bed, especially in the bedroom, will help you sleep well long after your DST transition.

Bask in the morning sun. To help your body along, take advantage of the morning sunshine. The sunlight will help to naturally reset your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural clock. Read the morning paper and eat breakfast near a window or get in the habit of opening your blinds in the morning to naturally wake up with the sun.

Stay alert. On average, there is a slight increases in traffic accidents occurring during the first weeks of Daylight Savings Time. When you get behind the wheel, make sure you are feeling alert and aware. Warmer temperatures will also bring more bikers and pedestrians to the streets, so keep your eyes moving and stay aware of your surroundings.

Limit caffeine when possible. While the thought of taking away a morning cup of Joe terrifies some, try to limit your caffeine during the week after the time change. This will make your body naturally adjust to the time difference. While the thought of limiting coffee or soda can be hard for many of us, try switching your afternoon coffee to tea or even decaf. This small change will make it easier to get to sleep earlier.

While the first couple days of Daylight Saving Time can be hard, eventually your body will adjust and you’ll enjoy having an extra hour of daylight in the evening. If you seem to notice your body having a hard time adjusting a couple weeks after, give Iowa Sleep a call to set up a consultation. We’ll have you sleeping well in no time.