Mar 8, 2024 - News

How to 'spring forward' without sacrificing your sleep

Illustration of a classic analog alarm clock reading 10:00 with shifty, heavy eyes inside the digits

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

At 2am Sunday, we will "spring forward" to daylight saving time, even though many sleep experts wish we wouldn't.

Why it matters: Members of health groups favor standard time over daylight saving time, because they say it's more aligned with our body clocks.

State of play: On Sunday, sunrise in Atlanta will go from happening at 6:54am to 7:54am. Sunset will move from 6:42pm to 7:42pm.

What they're saying: "Research shows that the abrupt seasonal shift in time disrupts circadian rhythms, leading to sleep disturbances, increased fatigue and even a heightened risk of heart attacks and strokes," says James A. Rowley, president of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

  • He adds that right after the clocks shift in March, there's "a spike in workplace accidents, road accidents and medical errors due to sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment."

Between the lines: Daylight is not "saved" per se, but it is shifted to remain later in the evening.

  • In spring and summer, days are naturally longer than they are in the fall and winter (when we're on standard time), regardless of time zone.

Of note: Lawmakers in Georgia have pushed to make daylight saving time permanent, but nothing will change until Congress acts.

To avoid the abrupt hour of sleep loss on Sunday, sleep experts recommend that you:

  • Gradually adjust bedtimes and daily activities to 15-20 minutes earlier, starting a few nights before the clocks switch. This is especially important if you have kids or pets.
  • Set the clock ahead one hour Saturday night, and then go to bed at your "normal" time, to get ahead of the change.
  • Go outside in the early morning during the week of the time change in order to help adjust your internal clock to the new time zone.
  • Aim to get 7+ hours of sleep.

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