Daylight Saving: “Fall back” into a good sleep pattern

Thanks to smartphones and smart appliances, most electronics will automatically make the switch for daylight saving time.

But there’s a reason your body doesn’t adapt as easily as your gadgets. Nina Desai, MD, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Clinic – Austin North Burnet said good sleep is crucial to your health because it helps reset the body.

“We release hormones during sleep and it’s that release process that helps us focus and function at our very best later in the day,” she said.

While daylight saving time affects everyone differently, Desai said babies, young children and the elderly tend to feel the effects most. For them, she offers these tips to ease the transition:

  • About three days before the time change, try moving your bedtime 15-20 minutes later. This gradual change, along with delaying your wake time 15-20 minutes, can help decrease the symptoms of fatigue and irritability.
  • Try dimming the lights for about an hour after you wake up in the morning.
  • Avoid electronics and screen time on computers, tablets and phones. This can keep your body’s clock in check so you feel ready to wake up in the morning and ready for bed at night.
  • Get plenty of sleep leading up to the time change to avoid health and safety risks.

Desai said it’s normal to feel a little bit tired for up to a week after a time change, but you should visit your doctor if fatigue persists.

“If you’re having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or not feeling rested in the morning, don’t ignore these signs,” she said. “Visit your doctor to make sure you’re not suffering from an underlying sleep disorder, metabolic disorder, depression or anxiety.”

Adults looking for a natural sleep solution may benefit from herbs. Tiodoso Bustillo, MAcOM, LAc, an acupuncturist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Clinic – Austin North Burnet suggests taking melatonin or valerian root about two hours before bed.

“Kava herb is a great natural sleep remedy, and Chinese dates can help too because the sweetness helps calm the body,” Bustillo said.

Herbal medications, like all medications, should be taken under the consultation of your physician.

So, with these tips in mind, hopefully you can get a better night’s sleep going into the fall and winter season.

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This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.

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Daylight Saving: “Fall back” into a good sleep pattern