Tips For Coping With “Fall Back” Time Change

by | Oct 27, 2015

Drat. The movement to abolish daylight saving time hasn’t yet gained enough steam to stop the twice yearly changing of the clocks.

Research shows that messing with our circadian rhythms during the semi-annual back-and-forth results in more heart attacks, traffic accidents, suicides and cyberloafing. Plus, energy studies show daylight saving time actually wastes energy, contrary to its original intent.

The good news is that the autumn time change, when we “fall back” and gain an hour of sleep, offers a chance to tune-up sleep habits. Keep reading for links to research–and tips on how to start preparing your body for disrupted sleep come Nov. 2.

First, figure out how much sleep is enough.

Most adults: 7 – 9 hours a night
Adolescents: 9 – 10 hours
Elementary school children: 10 hours
Preschoolers: 11 – 12 hours
Newborns: 16 – 18 hours

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you risk damaging memory, learning, creativity, productivity, emotional stability and physical health. You’re also more vulnerable to cancer, diabetes, weight gain, colds and flu and car accidents!

Even one hour matters when it comes to shortchanging sleep. In the three days following the spring-forward time change, researchers found a five percent greater risk of heart attacks. After the fall-back time change, there’s an increase in traffic accidents as well as sharply increased suicide rates.

One study of mining injuries found a spike on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time; days of work lost to injuries increased by 67 percent just because of that one day. A fascinating follow-up study of desk jobbers found that workers tend to “cyberloaf” more on the Monday following the shift to daylight savings time. In a sleep lab, participants cyberloafed off-task 20 percent of the time for every hour of lost sleep. Researchers extrapolate that this costs the American economy an estimated $434 million annually. (And workers don’t regain productivity after gaining an hour sleep during the fall!)

This year, mitigate the negative symptoms of the clock-change.

Create A Fake Sunset
Dim the lights and avoid screen time at least an hour before your new bedtime.

Early in the day, preferably in bright light to rev up serotonin, which help regulation circadian rhythms.

Create A Fake Sunrise
Put a timer on a bright light near your bed. Set it to turn the light on 30 minutes before you want to wake up in the morning.

Give Yourself A Bonus Hour
If you’re already chronically sleep-deprived, add an extra hour to your sleep schedule starting now. Tonight, go to bed an hour earlier, but don’t wake up an hour earlier tomorrow morning.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Slumbertorium for sleep tips, fun facts and to learn more about working with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. (You’ll love the Rube Goldberg-like Sleep Machine!)