Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time


By Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine Physician Katherine Dudley, MD

As the old adage goes, remember to Spring forward on March 11. In March we lose an hour of sleep with the onset of daylight saving time and it is not until November that we gain an hour of sleep back. In 2018, the clocks will go forward by one hour on Sunday, March 11, starting at 2 a.m. Mark your calendars!

Here’s a fun fact - Some parts of the United States avoid daylight saving time altogether. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and Arizona (minus Navajo lands) do not participate. Lucky them.

Waking up the next Monday morning might be arduous as we adjust to a new schedule. An extra cup of coffee might be required. Depending on your personal, work and family context the impact can vary, especially if you have young children. Kids need more sleep generally and have a lower tolerance for changes to their routines. Older folks and individuals with chronic conditions also struggle.

The symptoms caused by the shift in time are similar to a slight case of jet lag and can take anywhere from two days to a full week to properly recover. The common rule of thumb is for every hour of sleep lost 1-2 days are needed for your body to adapt.

There are a few simple steps that everyone can take, a week or so in advance of the event, to mitigate the impacts. Below are a few of my top suggestions.

  • Stick to a routine - As saving time begins it's important to keep with a bedtime routine. An hour or so before bed reduce exposure to blue light from the computer, phone, TV, or tablet. Keep the lights dim in your bedroom and see if reading (not on a tablet) helps relax your mind and body.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol - A week or so before the time change begins, stem that extra cup of coffee or an occasional glass of wine in the early evening or afternoon. Reducing the intake of these beverages will help your sleep cycle shift organically.
  • Increase exposure to light and warmth - Consider integrating exercise or a walk, for 30-40 minutes, in bright light into your morning or lunchtime schedule. Taking in light, and natural heat, throughout the day helps you stay awake and alert.
Daylight saving time signals the beginning of longer and warmer days, fun outdoor activities and time with friends and family so get out there and enjoy the weather!


Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.