Daylight saving time can be rough on sleep pattern. Local expert offers tips

Mar 20, 2023

Daylight saving time takes place at 2 a.m. Sunday — remember, spring forward, and move those clocks ahead by an hour. And while the practice leads to brighter evenings during the summer, one immediate downside is that it's harder to get up in the morning due to that "lost" hour of sleep.

anothony-izzo-200x300Dr. Anthony Izzo, a MetroWest Medical Center doctor who is board-certified in neurology and sleep medicine, sees patients from throughout MetroWest and central Massachusetts at the Sleep Lab in Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester.

He said the conversion to daylight saving time can disrupt our biological clocks and even our work productivity. And realistically, society doesn’t allow us to change our schedules and get up later, given school, business and other social expectations.

Izzo recently shared six tips to help your body adapt to a changed circadian rhythm faster and more efficiently.

Shift bedtime
It may be too late for this cycle, but gradually adjust your sleep schedule. Shift bedtime 15-30 minutes earlier every night for a week leading up to the spring clock change. Do the same for your wake time. This can help your body adjust more smoothly.

Avoid napping
Resist the temptation to take a nap during the day to make up for lost sleep. This can throw off your sleep schedule even further and make it harder to fall, and stay, asleep at night.

Practice healthy sleep hygiene
Make sure your sleep environment supports good sleep. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool. Avoid screen time (phone, computer, TV) for at least an hour before bed. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine in dim light to signal to your body that it's time to sleep.

Get some morning sunlight
Exposure to sunlight in the morning can help reset your circadian rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to get outside for at least 15-30 minutes each morning or sit by a sunny window if you can't go outside.

Be patient
It can take several days for your body to adjust to the spring clock change. It's a lot like jet lag from traveling coast to coast. Don't get discouraged if you're still feeling tired or out of sorts after a few days. Stick to your new sleep schedule and be patient — your body will eventually adapt.

Try low-dose melatonin
Low dose melatonin (1-3 mg) taken 60-90 minutes before your intended bedtime can help your body readjust to the spring clock change. It's best used in the short term. So once your body's clock adjusts to your new schedule, stop taking it. It's most helpful when used in combination with the above five tips.

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