Tips to help you cope with the end of daylight saving time
It’s a day we may look forward to: the end of daylight saving time. The clocks will be set back to standard time, meaning we gain an hour of sleep. Even though it feels good to get that benefit, there are still risks to our health and mood associated with the time change.
For example, your stomach may growl because you’re eating lunch an hour later. And you may feel more tired at night because it’s hard to stay up an extra hour. This fatigue can affect your sleep schedule, which is linked to a number of health issues and even vehicle crashes, according to the Sleep Foundation.
What is daylight saving time?
In the United States, most regions set their clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, causing earlier sunrises and earlier sunsets. Daylight saving time ends when the clocks “fall back” one hour on November 7, 2021. Hawaii and Arizona are currently the only two states that do not observe daylight saving time, but many others are considering laws to avoid springing forward or falling back in the future. Currently, a bill titled the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 is in Congress. It would make daylight saving time the new, permanent standard time.
The dangers of the time change
Your daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness is controlled by your circadian rhythm, which is tied to your 24-hour body clock. The time change disrupts that rhythm and consistency and it can take the body up to a week or more to adjust, increasing the risk of having a heart attack or another cardiovascular event. Researchers have also seen data that suggest there may be an increase in mood disorders and suicides.
While the impact of end of daylight saving time may not be as significant as it is at the start, there is also an uptick in vehicle crashes in the fall. A study shows that because people anticipate the extra hour on Sunday, there’s an increase in late night (early Sunday morning) driving when traffic-related deaths are high. These deaths are believed to be caused by both alcohol consumption and driving while sleepy. Additionally, there is more driving when it’s dark because the sun sets earlier after the time change.
How to deal with the time change
Losing sleep during daylight saving time is very similar to jetlag. However, there are several ways you can prepare for and deal with the time change so it doesn’t affect you as badly.
Don't take long naps
If you get tired, “nap in moderation,” says Michelle Drerup, psychologist and director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “Keep it to only 20 to 30 minutes so you’re not taking away from your sleep drive.”
Stick to your routine and schedule
Be consistent with exercising, eating and even what time you usually drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages during the transition back to standard time. You should also expose yourself to bright light when you wake up because it helps set your body’s circadian rhythm, according to Drerup.
Keep good sleep hygiene
“Just like you have dental hygiene to keep your teeth in the best shape, you should also practice good sleep hygiene,” says Drerup. This includes avoiding heavy workouts before bed; putting your phone, computer or tablet away; and turning off the television and picking up a non-suspenseful book instead. Also, try to stay consistent with how much sleep you get each night and only use the bed for sleeping.
Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol
Avoid drinking coffee at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime, even if you feel tired. “Drinking more coffee in the late afternoon and evening can affect your sleep at night,” says Drerup. She also advises you avoid alcohol at night. It may seem like a way to relax but it actually makes your sleep less restorative and causes sleep fragmentation (repetitive short interruptions of sleep), making you feel more tired.
How OnStar can help
Even with the increased risk on the road due to the time change, OnStar* Members can feel added confidence knowing they aren’t alone behind the wheel if they experience a problem. With Automatic Crash Response,* built-in vehicle sensors can automatically alert an Emergency-Certified Advisor* who can connected in to your vehicle and contact First Responders and provide them with your location. Advisors are also able to provide medical assistance until help arrives. And OnStar doesn’t just assist Members — you can be a Good Samaritan by pushing the red Emergency button in your vehicle if you see someone else who needs help. If you get lost in the evening because it gets dark earlier, you can also use Turn-by-Turn Navigation* to get to your destination. Plus, the OnStar Guardian™ app* provides key OnStar safety services for up to seven of your close friends and family, even if they don’t drive a GM vehicle.
Gaining an hour of sleep may feel great, but it can take a toll on your body, schedule and routine. But by following these tips, you’ll feel more prepared so you can “fall back” to the best of your abilities, while minimizing the impact on your health, driving safety and sleep schedule.