Daylight saving time ended at 2 AM on Sunday. As clocks turned back 1 hour, we gain an hour of sleep but often still feel groggy and sluggish.
Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center specialist Kelly Brown, MD, says this change in sleep schedule is exacerbated by our tendency to alter our sleep patterns on the weekends anyway.
“A lot of people like to stay up late on the weekend and then sleep in, but it’s important to stick to your regular schedule. Mondays are already hard when you shift your sleep schedule on the weekends, and the time change makes it even harder,” Brown says in a release.
Instead of sleeping for that extra hour on Sunday, Brown recommends using the time to go for a morning walk.
“Light is the most powerful way to control the internal clock. Getting sun exposure in the morning helps us feel more awake, and avoiding light at night, especially blue light from electronics, helps us fall asleep,” Brown says.
Light travels a direct pathway through the eye’s retina and regulates the hormone melatonin, which controls the sleep-wake cycle, among other functions. Light inhibits the production of melatonin, while darkness encourages it. This explains why we often feel more tired or groggy in the fall and winter months, when days are shorter and there are fewer hours of sunlight.
It usually takes just a day or two to feel normal again after changing clocks, but some people can require up to 2 weeks to make the transition. If the post-time change grogginess continues for more than 2 weeks, Brown says a sleep specialist may be able to help.
“It’s very important to note that if you are feeling sleepy during the day or having difficulty falling or staying asleep, you should talk to your primary care provider and consider an evaluation by a sleep physician. Sleep disorders are highly treatable and their treatment can make a dramatic change in your health and daytime functioning,” Brown says.
Additional recommendations for good sleep:
- Establish a relaxing presleep ritual, such as taking a bath, reading, or listening to calm music.
- Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid the bright lights and stimulation of TVs, computers, and other electronics before bed.
- Avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bed.
- Exercise earlier in the day, not right before bed.
- Keep the same bedtime and wake time each day, even on weekends.