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Shift to Daylight Savings Time Affects Sleep Patterns

daylight saving time
  • Published
  • 8 March 2024
  • Category
  • General

As most of the nation prepares to spring forward to daylight savings time, we are reminded that even an hour’s loss of sleep can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.

Sleep loss is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, inattention, irritability and diminished productivity. Studies show that many Americans do not get the seven to nine hours of sleep per 24-hour period recommended for adults. This can lead to chronic fatigue, which increases the risk for illness, accidents, injuries, fatalities and property loss.

Sleep Health

Sleep is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. However, when it seems as if there are not enough hours in the day, tradeoffs are often made with time previously reserved for rest. Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to relax, and self-care can end up on the back burner.

The body’s biological clock, which operates at the cellular level, influences circadian rhythms that follow a dark-light cycle and trigger the brain to release chemicals that promote wakefulness or sleepiness. Circadian rhythms can be disrupted by factors such as time changes, 24/7 business operations, caring for a newborn or lack of sunlight.

Sleep quality can also be affected by:

  • The presence of physical pain
  • Substances such as alcohol, caffeine and some drugs
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Eating fatty, heavy or spicy foods
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Light emitted by electronic devices
  • An environment not conducive to rest

Sleep disorders may be caused by a combination of physical and mental health conditions. Common ones include insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) and obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep) due to age, weight, neck circumferences and other risk factors.


It’s advisable to seek a medical consultation for sleep disruptions and disorders. Here are some ways to improve sleep duration and quality:

  1. Set reasonable expectations and acknowledge accomplishments.
  2. Be consistent about sleep times, even on days off.
  3. Get daily exercise, eat nutritious foods and manage weight.
  4. Before going to sleep, find ways to relax your mind and body:
    • Avoid stimulants
    • Do gentle stretches
    • Turn off electronic devices
    • Take a bath, do slow breathing or meditate
  1. For better sleep quality:
    • Select a bed/bedding that fits your size and lifestyle
    • Rest in a cool, dark and quiet room
    • Use ear plugs or “white noise” to block sounds
    • Check with a doctor before taking sleep remedies
    • Limit daytime naps to 20 minutes
  1. To be health-and-safety conscious:
    • Recognize that low-energy dips typically occur before dawn and between 1 and 3 p.m.
    • Do not drive or operate powered equipment when feeling drowsy.
    • Before travel, gradually adjust sleep patterns at home to match destination time zones.
    • Allow time to adjust to higher elevations; oxygen levels influence sleep quality.
    • Don’t depend on caffeine to stay awake.

WorkCare’s occupational health physicians and injury prevention specialists provide guidance on workplace fatigue management. Contact us to learn more: