Insomnia + Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time.

The understandable but frustrating practice of turning our clocks ahead one hour in the spring and back again one hour in the fall. Why do we do this? Well, history shows that by adjusting the clocks twice a year, we are able to make the darkness come later in the evenings during the warmer summer months and earlier in the evenings during the cold winter months.

However, to myself and others living with sleep disorders, these changes can feel like just one of a long list of additional challenges in an already turbulent routine.

Springing ahead - the start of daylight saving time

The first change of the year comes around in mid-March when all of a sudden, at 2 AM one night, it's actually 3 AM, and the sleep you would've gotten that night is just one hour shorter.

For me, this one-hour net loss usually feels more like a few hours loss. I typically feel a noticeable dent in my night's sleep and routine, more struggling when my alarm goes off, and some extra tiredness during the following days.

The effects of springing ahead make me a little resentful to the universe, but each year I have to remind myself that this is just part of the routine that we've come to understand — one of those less-than-ideal parts of life I just have to tolerate.

Tips for the spring time change

My top tips for surviving this set of challenges:

  1. Give yourself some prep time. We know when daylight saving will be a few years out, so you'll have heads up at least a few days to a week prior to the clock switching. I find that going to bed 15 to 30 minutes later for a few nights in a row before the change in the clock helps me to feel a little more adjusted when the actual jump happens.
  2. Utilize your regular sleep deprivation/shortage techniques such as the timing and amount of caffeine you require when you need an extra boost, snacks full of energy, a good pump-up playlist, etc.

Falling back – an extra hour when daylight saving time ends

The second change, the reaction to the original action, means that one night in early November, 2 AM becomes 1 AM again and we have another hour suddenly placed between bedtime and morning.

I never ever complain about falling back. One extra hour – absolutely. I'll take all the help I can get. But I know with some community members, this still feels difficult. An extra hour in the middle of the night might mean another hour awake or awake earlier in the morning than you'd prefer and might still come with frustrations.

Tips for the fall time change

Tips here would include:

  1. Giving yourself grace
  2. Preparing things to do if you're awake for an extra hour during the night or first thing in the morning
  3. Preparation to be a little more tired or even just "off" for a few days

The only effect I typically feel the days after we fall back is gratitude. Even if I didn't get another hour of sleep, I had another in the night to rest, and that feels like a win when I usually feel like I'm desperately asking the universe for more time in bed.

Does daylight saving time affect you? Which change impacts you more? I'd love to hear about it below.

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