It’s the time of the year again.
Twice a year, we dance with time, manipulating the clock hands to either seize an extra hour of sleep or relish an extended evening light. Daylight saving time is a biannual tradition that influences our daily routines and, often, our body’s internal clock.
Let’s delve deeper into the forever topic surrounding Daylight Saving Time: sleep.
Do people really gain an extra hour of sleep on the first night the clocks shift back when Daylight Saving Time ends?
When daylight saving time ends and the clocks are set back one hour, it may seem like an opportunity to gain an extra hour of sleep. However, in practice, many people find that their internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, doesn’t readily adjust to this shift.
Our bodies have a natural tendency to wake up at a specific time, driven by the body’s internal clock. So, even though the clock says it’s an hour earlier, our bodies often insist on waking up at the same time, making it challenging to actually gain that extra hour of sleep on the first night of the time change. Individuals who are more sensitive to time changes may experience poor sleep for a few days following the time change.
Is it easier to adapt to the start or end of Daylight Saving Time, when the clocks go forward or move back? Why?
The ease of adapting to the clock moving forward or backward for Daylight Saving can be influenced by a multitude of factors. From a circadian standpoint, it’s generally easier to shift our internal clock later rather than earlier. However, it’s important to note that the difficulty of adapting in one direction rather than another also depends on individual differences in chronotype, or one’s natural tendency to be an early bird or a night owl.
The impact of daylight on our daily routines and lifestyle can significantly influence how easy it is to adapt to clocks going forward or clocks moving back. For example, for those who need to rise early for work or other commitments, the ending of Daylight Saving Time in the fall, which provides brighter mornings, can be a welcome change to boost mood and alertness. On the other hand, individuals who enjoy daylight for afterwork activities may find it harder to adapt during the transition in the fall.
For how many days can your sleep cycle be disrupted with the clocks going back?
Naturally, the human body’s internal clock can adjust 45 minutes to one hour per day. Individuals who are more sensitive to time changes may experience poor sleep for a few days, sometimes a week, following the Daylight Saving Time change.
Circadian rhythm also controls when we feel hungry and how much we want to eat – does this mean our eating schedule will also shift with the Daylight Saving Time clock change?
While it may not be a universally experienced phenomenon, when we feel hungry may shift with the clock change. It is worth noting that different individuals may have varying levels of sensitivity to time changes. Some people may have a higher level of body awareness and be more attuned to these subtle shifts.
What type of people are most affected by the Daylight Saving Time change?
Daylight Saving Time impacts individuals across various demographics, but some groups are particularly affected by the time shift.
Some people are particularly sensitive to sleep schedule changes, so they are most impacted by the time changes. Night owls, teenagers, or individuals with delayed sleep phase syndrome can find it challenging to adapt to the start of Daylight Saving in March, as it is particularly challenging for them to wake up early. Elderly, or individuals with advanced sleep phase disorders may find it challenging to adapt to the ending of Daylight Saving. Shift workers may find it more challenging to adapt to the time change on top of their existing circadian rhythm disruptions from irregular work schedules. Additionally, individuals with fixed schedules, especially for early morning or late afternoon, are also more affected by the Daylight Saving time change.
Is it worth adapting your schedule to incorporate the one-hour change?
Adapting one’s schedule to incorporate the one-hour time change when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends can be a worthy endeavor. It is particularly beneficial for individuals who are sensitive to time changes.
Naturally, the human body’s internal clock can adjust 45 minutes to one hour per day. By gradually shifting your daily routines and bedtime over the course of one or two days leading up to the time change, you allow your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, to synchronize more smoothly with the new time. It is particularly helpful when the Daylight Saving Tim begins, when we typically lose an hour of sleep. If you adapt to an earlier bedtime one or two days before the time change, you may still get the same amount of sleep by falling asleep earlier than usual. If you don’t want your schedule to change for a few days, you may use light therapy to accelerate this transition and minimize the impact of time change on sleep.
What’s your best tip to overcome the clock change in November?
Generally, the time change in November has less impact on sleep than the time change happening in March, because it is generally easier to stay up late than waking up early.
The best tip to overcome the clock change is to adjust your schedule before the time change happens. For the time change in November, instead of abruptly shifting your schedule, try going to bed and waking up 20-30 minutes later each day in the few days leading up to the time change. This gradual transition allows your body’s internal clock to adapt more smoothly, minimizing disruptions to your sleep and daily activities.
If you don’t want your schedule to change for a few days, you may use light therapy to accelerate this transition and minimize the impact of time change on sleep. For example, before the time changes in fall, getting light exposure in the evening would help ease the transition. Similarly, one may find it helpful to get light exposure in the morning leading up to the time change in March.
Light therapy devices may be a good choice to help with these transitions. We are excited to announce our newly rolled-out Daylight Saving Module in the Lumos Mask to help you ease the transition. Give it a try and let us know how you feel!