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Fall back, spring ahead – How Daylight Saving Time affects your sleep

Posted on May 9th, 2023

For most of the United States, Daylight Saving Time began on March 12, 2023, at 2:00 AM. And it will end on November 5, 2023, at 2:00 AM. 

During Daylight Saving Time (DST), clocks are set one hour ahead of standard time. Every state except for Hawaii and Arizona follows this rule.

The U.S. first implemented DST to save fuel and power during World War II by extending daylight hours. Then, after passing the Uniform Time Act of 1966, DST became standard practice. 

But for many people, the transition to and from Daylight Savings Time results in sleep disruptions. 

How Daylight Saving Time disrupts your sleep 

The body’s internal clock is sensitive to sudden changes in light exposure and darkness. And this affects the circadian rhythms that tell you when you should sleep and wake up.

Your body can take several days or weeks to adjust when the clocks change. And this may leave you feeling tired or fatigued. 

Experts say people are more likely to get a good amount of high-quality sleep during standard time (November through March). 

Standard time has more morning light, which benefits people commuting to work and children going to school. Year-round DST would result in more morning darkness, especially during the winter, which could pose safety concerns, including increased traffic accidents. 

These darker mornings would disproportionately affect northern states and cities. In January, the sun wouldn’t rise in New York City until around 8:20 AM. And in parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Michigan, the sun wouldn’t come up until after 9:30 AM. 

Seasonal time changes can cause misalignment, leading to an increased risk of…

  • Stroke and cardiovascular events
  • Hospital admissions
  • Mood disturbances
  • And the production of inflammatory markers

Seasonal time changes also contribute to an increase in medical mistakes.

How to effectively adjust to time changes and get good sleep

When you “spring forward” or “fall back” an hour, make gradual changes to your sleep schedule. 

If you have trouble adjusting, here are some helpful tips:

  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier or later than usual a few days before the time change.
  • Make an effort to sleep well before the time change happens. 
  • Expose yourself to sunlight, especially in the morning, to help set your body’s internal clock.
  • Don’t let yourself sleep in or stay up the extra hour when the clocks change. 
  • Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime.
  • Keep the temperature of your bedroom cool. 

The benefits of maintaining good sleep habits

  • Sleep helps with learning and memory. Sleep helps the brain process new information and experiences and it improves comprehension. 
  • Sleep enhances your mood and prevents mood disorders, like depression and anxiety. 
  • Sleep improves judgment and perception. This makes you more effective and productive at work or school. 
  • Sleep helps maintain a good hormonal balance, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Sleep boosts your immune system by releasing proteins called cytokines. These proteins help decrease inflammation, fight infections, and manage stress. 

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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