The warm weather and excitement of spring may be on the horizon, but at 2 am on Sunday, March 10, “springing forward” to daylight saving time will result in an hour of lost sleep for many who are unprepared. With millions of Americans already failing to get the recommended seven or more hours of sleep on a regular basis, it’s especially important for those who are sleep-deprived to prepare in advance for the spring time change.
According to an American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) health advisory, the change to daylight saving time can have a negative impact on sleep duration and sleep quality, lasting approximately five to seven days. Those who regularly get insufficient sleep may experience the most adverse effects of the time change.
“The change to daylight saving time can disrupt your sleep pattern, making it more difficult to get sufficient sleep for up to a week,” says AASM president Douglas Kirsch, MD, in a release. “This sleep disruption can impair your productivity, alertness, and mood, and it may increase your risk of driving drowsy, especially if you don’t get plenty of sleep during the week leading up to the time change.”
Teens, who tend to get insufficient sleep during the school year, may be especially at risk of experiencing disrupted sleep and more daytime sleepiness due to the time change. While the AASM recommends that teens should sleep eight to 10 hours on a regular basis, data show that most teens report sleeping fewer than eight hours on an average school night.
Fortunately, with some advance preparation, the negative impacts of the change to daylight saving time can be reduced. The AASM recommends the following tips for the week leading up to March 10:
- Get at least seven hours of sleep (for adults) or eight hours of sleep (for teens) per night before and after the time change. You can use the AASM’s bedtime calculator to identify an appropriate nightly bedtime.
- Gradually adjust your sleep and wake times beginning two to three nights before the time change. Shift your bedtime 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night.
- For a few days before the time change, begin to adjust the timing of other daily routines that are “time cues” for your body. For example, start eating dinner a little earlier each night.
- On Saturday night, set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime.
- Head outdoors for some early morning sunlight on Sunday. The bright light will help set your internal clock, which regulates sleep and alertness.
- Go to bed early enough on Sunday night to get plenty of sleep before the week begins on Monday.