The WellSpan Spotlight


Managing sleep when the darkness comes early

Managing sleep when the darkness comes early

Get ready to fall back.

While that extra hour of sleep we get when daylight saving time ends sounds oh so appealing, turning the clocks back actually can leave people out of whack. The change in sleep patterns can affect productivity and energy levels, a WellSpan expert says. Instead of feeling more rested, we actually can end up experiencing sleep deprivation.

Dr. Elizabeth Muhiire-Ntaki, a WellSpan medical director for Primary Care, shares a few simple ways we can beat the clock, and adjust our routines to accommodate the time change.  

"Our bodies go through a time change twice each year," Dr. Muhiire-Ntaki says. "Take care of yourself so you feel refreshed and ready to go when the days get shorter."

Prepare for it

Modify bedtime by going to bed 15 minutes earlier for a few nights prior to the time change. Turn off all screens at least an hour before laying down to sleep. Adjust mealtimes and other daily routines that could be "time cues" for your body – such as eating lunch an hour later than you normally would to help your body get ready. On Saturday, change the clocks earlier in the evening and go to bed at your normal bedtime.

Keep a regular sleep schedule

Once the time change occurs, continue to go to sleep around your usual bedtime to maintain your body's normal schedule. Once you get into a regular pattern, your body will naturally recognize your sleep-wake cycle.

Get some sun

The end of daylight saving time accounts for earlier sunsets and shorter days. Keep a routine so your internal clock stays consistent. Take a quick walk around the block or sit outside soaking in the sun for a few minutes at lunchtime if you can. Increasing natural light exposure helps your body to align with the natural light schedule after the time change. This will help you feel more awake during the day and more tired at night.

Try a sleep mask

If your schedule requires you to sleep while the sun is awake, try using a sleep mask. This can prevent the sun's bright light from waking you up.

Establish healthy sleep habits so your body can adjust to the time change. Limiting your caffeine intake in the afternoon, developing a relaxing bedtime routine, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule are all best practices for good sleep hygiene.

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