“Fall Back” Into a Smooth Time Change

Clock with fall foliage

Daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 3 which means it’s almost time to set our clocks back one hour. Before we “fall back,” we sat down with Dr. Bobby Kahlon, a family medicine physician, to talk about transitioning your sleep schedule for the time change.

1. Get on a Sleep Schedule for “Fall Back” and Beyond

Your internal clock, also known as the intrinsic circadian timekeeping system, modulates sleep, wakefulness, and many other systems that keep the body functioning normally. This includes your daily rhythms in core body temperature, the stress hormone cortisol, and appetite.

“If your internal clock isn’t on the same page as your current sleep schedule, or your sleep cycle is impaired, you can develop symptoms of insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness,” says Dr. Kahlon. “This can even impact emotional, physical, cognitive and social functions.”

2. Create Habits to Help You Sleep Well

There are certain habits and practices that help you sleep well consistently, also known as sleep hygiene. Having good sleep hygiene will help your body transition through the time change and maintain a healthy sleep cycle.

Here are a few tips to achieving healthy sleep habits:

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  2. Exercise earlier in the day.
  3. Limit caffeine intake, and do not drink caffeine after noon.
  4. Put on sunscreen and get outside daily. The shorter daylight hours can affect mood and memory, so this is incredibly important.
  5. Eat dinner at the same time every day. Try not to eat within three hours of bedtime.
  6. Use the bedroom for sleep. Don’t use this space for eating dinner or watching TV.
    (Yes, that means no binge watching a series in bed.)

Related: Poor Sleep Habits? How to Sleep Smarter

3. Be Persistent

Commit to a sleep schedule and stick to it. It can take up to one week to adjust to the “fall back” one-hour time change. If you’re feeling the desire to stay up an extra hour or two within the first week of the time change, resist the urge and go to bed on time.

“In general, a one-hour time difference should not have a major impact on a normal, healthy person,” says Dr. Kahlon. “Sleep is the ultimate meditation and practicing good sleep habits is good for you long after daylight saving time ends.”

Have Questions about Getting your Zzz’s?

To talk to a primary care provider about difficulty sleeping or if your mood is affected after the time change, call 775-982-5000.