After Daylight Savings Ends: Some Advice

Daylight savings has come and gone for another year, and my patients have already mentioned how their sleep patterns were affected by the change. So have members of my staff, and this is even though we gained an hour instead of losing one. So, why is it that after daylight savings ends and we even gained an hour this past Sunday that we feel sluggish or groggy? I hold with most sleep specialists that the sleep pattern changes we normally make on the weekends – staying up later and sleeping in – exasperates the effects of the time change on our bodies. Mondays are particularly hard because of this sleep pattern change each weekend, and with another hour added into the mix, our bodies feel even more sluggish than the usual.

Light is a major tool for adjusting to the daylight savings time change. The more sunlight we get in the morning, the more awake we feel throughout the day. Also, avoiding light before bedtime, especially the blue light of electronics, helps our body naturally shut itself down for proper sleep. This is because light inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone in our body that supports sleep, while darkness encourages it. So, when you get that extra hour each year, instead of using it to sleep another hour, take a walk in the sunlight and rejuvenate your body and mind. Remember, each year after daylight savings ends we lose daylight on the tail end of our days. This makes it extra important to wake up at a proper hour and get outside to enjoy the sunlight we do have. Doing this really helps ward off the ‘winter blues.’ If you haven’t fully adjusted to the time change, take a walk tomorrow morning. If your body still feels out of sorts two weeks after the time change, then it may be indicative of a minor sleeping disorder. If this is the case you should consult your physician or a sleep specialist.