Daylight Saving Time and Sleep
There’s more to adjusting to Daylight Saving Time than just changing the time on all your clocks. Your body might struggle with adapting which can impact the quality of your sleep. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease your body into the time change and minimize the effect it has on your sleep.
- During Daylight Saving Time (DST), clocks advance by one hour, shifting the time of day in relation to where the sun is above the earth. Therefore, daylight begins an hour later in the morning and lasts an hour later in the evening. This change helps keep the daylight hours coordinated with the time that most people are active.1
- 2016 DST begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 13 and ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 6.
- Most states observe DST, but Hawaii, most of Arizona, and some U.S. territories including Puerto Rico do not.
The concept of DST was developed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, but it was not adopted in the United States until 1918 during World War I.2 An Act established standard time zones and set summer DST. The idea was unpopular though and Congress abolished it after the war, so then DST became a local matter. It was re-established nationally during World War II from 1942–1945, and some states and localities adopted summer DST after the war. It wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that standardized dates were provided for the beginning and ending of DST, although local exemptions were allowed. The beginning and ending dates have periodically changed over the years, but, since 2007, DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.3
Tips to Deal with the Time Change
It’s difficult to avoid the impact of DST on sleep, but the following tips might help make the transition easier.
- Gradually transition into the time change, shifting your bedtime in 15 minute increments starting several days before the change.4
- Keep regular sleep hours to help your body regulate its sleep pattern and get the most out of the hours you sleep.
- Exercise during the day but not too close to bedtime.
- Take a power nap (no more than 20 minutes) in the afternoon if you feel sleepy.5
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco before bed since they can interfere with proper sleep.