Here's how to adjust before we 'spring forward' for DST this weekend
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead an hour this weekend — daylight saving time (DST) begins Sunday, March 11 at 2am.
This annual “spring forward” inevitably leads to lost sleep as we try to adjust to losing an hour over the weekend and going to bed an hour earlier than our bodies are used to.
Many have cited concerns about DST, and not just that it’s inconvenient. As it turns out, there are some serious health concerns caused by a shift in your internal clock, or circadian rhythm: increased risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, workplace injuries and auto accidents.
What can I do?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed 15–20 minutes earlier in the few days leading up to DST. You could also try sleeping in Sunday morning and exposing yourself to sunlight as soon as possible.
Or follow these general tips for healthy sleep:
- Leave a couple of hours between eating and going to bed.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid alcohol at night.
- Turn off mobile devices before you head to bed. Blue light from screens can affect your ability to sleep.
- Make your room all about sleep: Use a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding, and keep your room dark. This includes no television in the bedroom.
What about children?
Many people with children experience different barriers during this annual time change. The best advice is the same as for adults — prepare them a few days ahead by putting them to bed a little earlier each night. When Sunday night comes along, it will be more familiar to the child and her internal clock.
This, coupled with keeping a sleep routine for your child, will promote a smoother transition during DST for both child and parents.
Children experience a plethora of stimuli: cell phones, video games, computers, television. Although this can help keep your child calm in the moment, it can also lead to behavioral and sleep problems down the road if parents don’t set boundaries.
Allow an hour or so before bedtime with no screens or devices. Incorporate something soothing or calming for your child instead. Doing this before bed as a family can be helpful in promoting good sleep hygiene for everyone. Plus, the better the bedtime routine, the easier DST is likely to be.
How much sleep do I really need?
Don’t cheat yourself out of sleep — the average American adult isn’t getting enough. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is how much sleep you should be getting:
- Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infant (4-12 months): 12-16 hours (including naps)
- Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (including naps)
- Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours (including naps)
- School age (6-12 years): 9-12 hours
- Teen (13-18 years): 8-10 hours
- Adult (18-60 years): 7 or more hours
- Adult (61-64 years): 7-9 hours
- Adults (65 and older): 7-8 hours
Adjusting to DST is not just about making sure you’re not late for church or Sunday brunch — it can have a serious effect on you or a loved one. Statistically people perform and feel better when they are adequately rested. Getting the proper amount of sleep year round will help maximize your health and better prepare you for DST.
Trouble sleeping? Try a sleep study or see a sleep medicine provider
If you know someone who is having trouble sleeping — or their snoring is keeping you awake — MultiCare Sleep Centers provide comprehensive care for adults as well as children. Find out what’s keeping you up at night and learn whether it’s a sign of something more serious.
Led by board-certified sleep disorders specialists, MultiCare’s sleep services include sophisticated overnight sleep studies using advanced diagnostics, a full range of treatment for the more than 80 known sleep disorders and support services for the entire family.
Talk to your primary care physician about a referral to a MultiCare Sleep Center. See locations.
About The Author
Mikal Williams, RPSGT, RST, BSBA, is a sleep technologist and supervisor for MultiCare Sleep Centers. He’s been in the field of sleep for 12 years. More stories by this author