How to Prepare Your Body for Daylight Savings Time

By Ana C. Krieger, MD, MPH

Brace yourselves! It is that time of the year — again.

We are about to lose one hour of sleep and increase our chances of getting into accidents.

Daylight savings time (DST) is upon us and data shows that on the days following DST, our already sleep deprived population suffers due to added sleep loss.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for it:

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Before March 12:

  • Start waking up 15 min earlier than usual in order to get a head start on adapting to the new schedule.
  • Enjoy the early sunrise and make sure to get 10–15 min of light exposure in the early morning.
  • A few days before DST, set your wake time to 30 min ahead. This will narrow the difference and make it easier for you to adjust to the time change on March 12.
  • Take advantage of your earlier start for the day, and shift your activities to an earlier schedule, including dinner, exercise and bedtime!
  • Moving up your bedtime by 30 min will narrow the difference and reduce the impact of the time change on your circadian and biological system, improving alertness in the morning following DST.

And remember, just because you prepared well for this change, it doesn’t mean that everyone around you is perky and alert.

After DST:

  • Beware of sleepy drivers, particularly on that Monday as the number of car accidents increases.
  • If you have kids at home, make sure they don’t leave any work to be completed in the morning before school starts as their brains will be in a fog — or fully asleep- in the early morning.

Our own research study has shown that high school students’ reaction time is impaired throughout the entire week following DST. Perhaps for a change, you might want them to keep a more flexible after school schedule and go to bed early!

Get more information from Weill Cornell Sleep Medicine here.

Ana C. Krieger, MD, MPH, FCCP, FAASM, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Medical Director, Center for Sleep Medicine, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Departments of Medicine, Neurology and Genetic Medicine, Associate Attending, Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital