How Daylight Saving Time Affects Sleep

November 2, 2018 · Mattress Warehouse

In recent years, Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been a hotly debated subject. 43 percent of Americans say there’s no need for DST. Sleep scientists view it as a health hazard, economists argue it’s a hindrance to productivity, and most people are annoyed at the time change and left feeling tired even after sleep— unless it’s “fall back,” which allows people the opportunity to get more REM sleep.

But when does the time change this year? DST ends Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 a.m. in 2019, so you’ll set your clocks back an hour. Traditionally, people refer to the time change as “spring forward” and “fall back.” Even though the clocks fluctuate by an hour, the effects on your health and performance are noticeable. When DST starts in spring, people struggle with how to deal with sleep deprivation.

When DST ends in fall, you risk disrupting your body’s circadian rhythm. This can affect when and in what quantities sleep-inducing melatonin is released. After Daylight Saving Time ends in the fall, it is typically lighter outside when you wake up, since the sun has had an extra hour to rise. This additional light is instrumental in helping your body’s internal clock activate brain regions involved in stimulating alertness and energy.

History of Daylight Saving Time

DST was introduced in the U.S. in 1918 as a method to save energy during World War I. The intention of this change was that people could rely on sunlight instead of electricity to light their homes for an extra hour at night.

It was repealed nationwide in 1919 and then maintained by some individual localities, causing confusion until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act made DST consistent nationwide. However, Hawaii and Arizona (except for the state’s Navajo Nation) still do not observe DST, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands also remain on standard time year-round.

Do you really get an extra hour of sleep with Daylight Saving Time?

Picking up some extra sleep seems better than the alternative of losing an hour, but once your body adjusts to a certain sleep-wake cycle, an hour fluctuation will affect your day. Moving our clocks in either direction changes the sun’s position in the morning, which is for setting and resetting our circadian rhythm.

When an adjustment like this occurs, it throws our internal clocks out of whack, similar to jet lag. It might be more difficult to fall asleep instantly. To put it in simple terms, whether you get an extra hour of sleep or lose an hour of sleep, your body is going to need at least a day to adjust to what’s going on and you could end up feeling tired even after sleep.

This small switch is more difficult for children. The importance of sleep for kids in cognitive and physical performance cannot be understated. Any parent knows keeping their children on a solid sleep schedule is incredibly important, so DST can be more difficult for younger children.

For instance, children who were used to going to bed at 7 p.m. will now be ready to go to bed at 6 p.m. That might seem acceptable, but that also means they’re more likely to wake up an hour earlier, which is something parents probably don’t want. It can also be challenging if children believe they have an extra hour of playtime before bed, and stay up watching television or gaming on a device because technology can negatively impact children’s sleep quality.

Daylight Saving Time can cause confusion at first, altering your circadian rhythm. When most people wake up, the sun is rising or just about to rise. When clocks fall back an hour, it will be much lighter outside. If children associate the sun coming up with it being time to wake up, that could cause an issue with their sleep schedule. Install blackout curtains in you and your family’s bedrooms to ensure DST doesn’t affect your sleep habits.

Any negative side effects of the time change will correct themselves within a day or two, but it’s important to know that not everyone adjusts at the same time. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour on Saturday night before you go to bed. You won’t have to enter Daylight Saving Time and “spring forward” until Sunday, March 10, 2019. Unfortunately, you will lose an hour that night so try to go to bed earlier to avoid feeling tired even after sleep.

What are the benefits of Daylight Saving?

Instead of trying to grab that extra hour of sleep, enjoy waking an hour earlier. Starting to wake a bit earlier one or two days before the time change will help greatly with waking up more refreshed on that first Monday morning. If you have been thinking about altering your normal schedule, this is a perfect time to be the boss of your body clock.

DST promotes active lifestyles because people are more likely to participate in outdoor activities after work when it is light outside. Because of DST "people engaged in more outdoor recreation and less indoor-TV watching,” stated Hendrik Wolff, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University. “An additional 3 percent of people engaged in outdoor behaviors who otherwise would have stayed indoors."

If you normally have deprived sleep, then enjoy that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Be sure to go to sleep an hour earlier than normal to ensure you do not become even more sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system making it easier to catch seasonal cold or flu. In addition to weakening your immune system, even the slightest disruption of normal sleep can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression.

Fall Back… On Your bedMATCH Mattress

As we end Daylight Saving Time, that means you get an extra hour in bed. As you adjust your clock, it might be time to adjust your sleep system too. Make sure your mattress is optimized to fit your specific sleep needs. Waking up is hard, but if you are sleeping on a bed that doesn’t leave you feeling rejuvenated, being productive might seem impossible.

One tool guaranteed to make the transition easier is to use an adjustable base, which reduces pressure points, puts less strain on your heart, promotes proper circulation, and provides personalized support and comfort to improve sleep patterns. Being aware of your body’s rhythms and sleep habits can lead to a more restful sleep over time, especially as your circadian rhythm adjusts to Daylight Saving Time.

Everyone has to adjust to the time change, but your mattress shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all product. The groundbreaking bedMATCH technology uses a combination of height, weight, pressure points, and your sleep preferences to make choosing a mattress that’s personalized for you easier than setting your clock back an hour.