How Daylight Saving Time Affects Sleep

As we 'spring ahead' one hour on Sunday, some people might notice that they have difficulty sleeping. A sleep specialist offers some advice.

Media Downloads

CCNS health and medical content is consumer-friendly, professional broadcast quality (available in HD), and available to media outlets each day.

Additional Assets

*Email us for video download password Content is property of Cleveland Clinic and for news media use only.

Media Contact

We're available to shoot custom interviews & b-roll for media outlets upon request.

CLEVELAND – On Sunday, we’ll ‘spring ahead’ one hour for Daylight Saving Time. And while it may not seem like much, that small change can disrupt your sleep.

“Daylight Saving Time, where we’re shifting just one hour forward or one hour behind, affects our circadian rhythm. So the inside clock, the clock inside our brain that regulates sleep and wakefulness, is typically a very reliable, periodic process and having just a one hour shift can actually affect us pretty significantly,” explained Nancy Foldvary, MD, sleep specialist for Cleveland Clinic.

It can be relatively dangerous, too. Research has shown Daylight Saving Time has been linked to an increase in car accidents, stroke and heart attacks.

So, what can someone do to help adjust to the time change?

Dr. Foldvary has a couple of recommendations. For starters, plan ahead and make sure you’re getting enough sleep on a consistent basis. This can help ease the transition.

Next, avoid anything that can disrupt your sleep. For example, drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed, or eating a heavy meal late at night.

Finally, take stock of your sleep hygiene.

“Each of us has our own vulnerability to sleep loss and circadian rhythm changes. Some of us adapt well to difficult situations, like night call or shift work that require frequent or rapid adjustments in sleep times, while others struggle,” she said. “Most of us know how much sleep we need each night to feel well rested and function optimally. Sleep requirements differ for every individual and are genetically determined.”

Dr. Foldvary said if you notice that your sleep is disturbed for more than a couple of months, you should consult with your physician.

For Journalists Only

Sign up below to be added to our Daily Health Stories distribution list.

For more information on medical conditions and diseases, visit our Health Library.