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Sleep Tips

Daylight Saving Time: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Photo of young woman and her pet enjoying together on the balcony of their loft apartment.
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Mark your calendars and get ready to update your sleep schedule: Daylight saving time is almost here.

In 2024, the annual time change begins on Sunday, March 10, when we set clocks ahead an hour at 2 a.m. local time. For nearly eight months, daylight saving time will provide us with longer days of sunlight. We’ll set clocks back an hour (to what is known as standard time) on Sunday, November 3, at 2 a.m.

Though the time change may seem minimal, that hour of sleep lost each March can be challenging to make up, especially for anyone with kids, pets or a busy schedule.

"Expect that sleep initiation might be a little difficult," shares Dr. Chris Winter, sleep neurologist, sleep advisor to Mattress Firm, and host of the Sleep Unplugged podcast. Regardless of when you fall asleep, Winter says it's important to set a targeted time to get up in the morning. "Maintaining the wake time should be a priority. That usually keeps the transition pretty short."

Read on to learn more about daylight saving time—plus, get expert tips on making small lifestyle changes to reduce the effects of potential sleep loss.

What Is Daylight Saving Time (DST)?

This twice-a-year time change starts a schedule where the sun sets later in the day. It was adopted to get more use out of daylight while helping reduce energy costs.

Daylight saving time begins with a “spring forward” on the second Sunday of March when we set the clocks ahead an hour. You may experience less sleep from this change as it causes a loss of an hour overnight. DST lasts a total of 34 weeks—that’s 238 days or about 65% of the year.

We then “fall back” on the first Sunday of November as we gain an hour.

What Time Do You Change the Clocks for Daylight Saving Time?

At the start of daylight saving time, you’ll see your smart devices change time at 2 a.m., when the clocks “spring forward” to 3 a.m. You can reset analog clocks the night before so you don’t oversleep in the morning. Come November, clocks will “fall back” from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Will We Have Daylight Saving Time in 2024?

Simply put: Yes (well, most of us).

Proposed federal legislation known as the Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight saving time permanent in most of the United States, eliminating the time change. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent in March 2022—however, the House did not vote on the bill before the end of the 117th Congress. The Sunshine Protection Act remained at a standstill through 2023.

While some states are considering legislation to eliminate clock changes, two states currently follow permanent standard time:

  • Arizona does not observe daylight saving time to avoid adding an extra hour of daylight during the hottest months of the year. However, parts of Arizona within the Navajo Nation follow daylight saving time. 
  • Hawaii, due to its proximity to the equator, does not follow daylight saving time as the amount of sunlight the islands receive doesn’t vary much throughout the year. 

Who Controls Daylight Saving Time?

Though many attribute the rules of daylight saving time to the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology, it is actually the Department of Transportation that regulates DST and time zones.

Why Is It Harder To Lose an Hour?

Both the spring and fall time changes can be challenging, but bedtime, especially for parents, can feel tough when you lose an hour. Suddenly, it’s 8 p.m., even if it still feels like 7 p.m., and many children, particularly those with strict bedtimes, resist that earlier time.

That change can roll over to the following day, making the morning hard for many of us with a set time to wake up. This potential loss of sleep is particularly challenging for children—it can leave younger kids cranky and adolescents and teens groggy as they head off to school once Monday arrives.

If you're struggling to get up in the morning, Winter has advice. "Set an extra alarm far away from the bed," he advises. And if you worry you might laze anyway, get yourself out into the world. "Plan to meet someone that Sunday morning. Sometimes, the expectation that someone is waiting for you at the restaurant or gym can motivate people."

Tips To Make Daylight Saving Time Easier

Start early: To prepare for the change, begin adjusting your timeline a few days before the “spring forward.” Move your bedtime and wake-up time earlier by 15-minute increments, starting four days before Sunday, so you’ll be a full hour ahead once daylight saving time arrives. This change can especially benefit children as they need more sleep than adults.

Get morning light: To help set your circadian rhythm to the new time, get outside and expose your body to morning sunshine when you wake up. Similarly, dim your blue light at night so your body knows it’s time to wind down.

Limit your naps: If you’re unsuccessful in getting to bed earlier, you may be tired. Naps are OK—for you and your kids—but try to limit your own naps to 20 minutes. Longer naps will get you into a full sleep cycle and could leave you groggy or delay bedtime at night.

Avoid late-day caffeine: Grabbing a quick coffee is tempting if you're tired. Try to limit caffeine to the mornings or, at least, to no later than six hours before bedtime.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule: As soon as you’ve adjusted to the time change, stick to your bedtime and wake-up times. Consistent timing is one of the best things you can do for your sleep. If your sleep schedule needs additional help, aim to exercise early, limit late-night food to small, healthy snacks, ideally with tryptophan or melatonin, and don’t use your bed for anything but sleep and sex.

Don’t get discouraged: If you, your kids, your pets, or all the above keep you up late, don’t fret. You can always get things back on track. Aim to minimize social plans for the first few days after DST starts and prioritize getting outside in the mornings to wake yourself up. And remember: The clocks will fall back again in about eight short months!

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