“Falling back” during Daylight Saving Time can actually mess with your sleep—here’s what to do about it

Every year, we find ourselves stressed about Daylight Saving Time (before you google, yes, it’s “saving” not “savings”). Do we gain an hour of sleep or lose an hour of sleep? Should we just try to ignore the whole thing? We are here to tell you that Sunday morning, November 4th, the clock will “fall back” an hour, which means we will be gaining an extra hour of rest. Right? Not so fast. Before you rejoice, know that “falling back” during Daylight Saving Time and sleeping in can actually mess with your sleep long-term. We’re here to help you, though—because no one needs to have bags under their eyes this fall/winter season.

According to board-certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist W. Christopher Winter of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It, winter DST is not as bad as springtime.

“It’s usually not a big deal for most people. Certainly, it’s a lot easier than it is in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep,” he said. However, some people find that their sleep does feel interrupted, and not having an adequate amount of sleep can affect you in the long run.

"We’ll see patients three months out from the end of Daylight Saving Time who say they were sleeping just fine until the time change," Dr. Winter said. "Generally, it’s because they’re making a compensation that’s not healthy."

To combat that disruption, Dr. Winter has a recommendation for adjusting to the time change: Stay up an hour later the night before the clock falls back (i.e. Saturday night). Doing this will put you back on your regular schedule when the time changes. For example, if you usually go to bed at 11 p.m., force yourself to stay up till midnight. That way, when you wake up at 8 a.m., you’ll be on your normal schedule.

Bottom line, make sure you are listening to what your body needs during the time change…because our bodies truly are our temples.

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