How to get a good night’s sleep through the Daylight Saving Time transition
Whether you love or hate it, Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been a part of Canada since 1908. DST is adjusting the clocks by one hour in the spring and fall to add more daylight hours. This practice was adopted in World War I to give workers one more hour of daylight.
Daylight Saving Time in Canada starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November each year. In March, clocks “spring forward” one hour, and in November, clocks “fall back” one hour.
Not all provinces in Canada participate in DST. Yukon, most of Saskatchewan, some locations in Québec, Southampton Island, and some areas in British Columbia don’t use DST and stay on standard time all year.
Is Daylight Saving Time good for your sleep habits?
When asking Canadian sleep researchers if DST has a positive effect on sleep, the answer is a resounding “no.”
“There is an international consensus right now that daylight savings time should be abolished because this practice really causes mental and physical health risks, and we see that at the population level,” said Rébecca Robillard, co-chair of the Canada Sleep Research Consortium.
The Canadian Sleep Society also supports removing DST and returning to standard time. “DST imposes circadian misalignments, with a detrimental one-hour sleep loss upon the spring switch to DST and the fall return to Standard Time (ST) with little evidence of extra sleep following the transition,” they wrote in a statement in March 2023.
Not only is DST not seen to have a positive impact on your sleep and overall health, but it can also be a detrimental factor for the health and well-being of many.
What are the impacts of DST on your health and well-being?
The negative impacts of Daylight Saving Time on sleep are far-reaching.
The disruption to your circadian rhythm can cause the quality and duration of your sleep to diminish. Beyond getting a poor night’s sleep for a few days to a week, there are some serious health concerns to be aware of when the clocks change:
- Stroke rates spike by 9% on Monday after the springtime change.
- Sleep is an integral part of a healthy heart. Heart attacks increase by between 24% and 50% on Monday after the springtime change.
- DST also leaves people more susceptible to depression.
- DST can worsen memory, learning, judgment, and risk-taking behaviors.
- DST induces sleep deprivation in the spring.
- DST causes later darkness during the summer, resulting in delayed bedtime, social jetlag, and sleep loss.
Sleep experts in both Canada and America continue to try to have DST abolished. After the Yukon officially changed to standard time in 2020, Ontario and British Columbia decided to end DST, but they depend on the US making those same changes.
The Sunshine Protection Act was passed in the US Senate in 2022, intending to adopt standard time across the US. It stalled in the House but was reintroduced in 2023. If the Sunshine Protection Act passes, some provinces in Canada will also adopt standard time.
How can you mitigate the impact of Daylight Saving Time on your sleep?
As North America finds itself caught up in a lot of red tape when it comes to abolishing Daylight Saving Time, there are things you can still do to combat the negative effects of DST on your sleep.
Before/during the spring time change
There are specific things you can do a few days before and a few days after the time change that can help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Start going to bed 15 minutes early, eight to nine days before the time changes. And every two days, add 15 minutes to that time. This will help ensure you are well-rested before the time change and will get your body used to your “new” bedtime.
- If you feel extra tired the Sunday after the change to Daylight Saving Time, take a 15-20 minute nap in the afternoon. Make sure it isn’t too close to bedtime.
- Avoid the urge to sleep an hour longer in the morning.
Throughout the whole year
The above tips are great for helping you with the transition to Daylight Saving Time. These tips can also help prepare you for the adjustment but are also the basis for a solid sleep foundation. Try making these tips part of your sleep routine throughout the year.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by ensuring everything you do throughout the day sets you up for a great night’s sleep. This includes everything from refraining from consuming alcohol before bed to ensuring you have no screens in your bedroom to avoid blue light.
- Create a consistent bedtime routine—and stick to it! Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a healthy sleep habit that can help you during time changes and beyond. Ensure you get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Make a point to get outside and spend time in nature. Natural light helps us establish our circadian rhythms. Getting outside into the sunlight can boost your energy during the day and help you feel tired and ready for bed at night.
- Stay away from caffeine in the evenings. It’s best to avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime—or longer depending on your body’s needs.
Even with Daylight Saving Time, you can prioritize your sleep while springing forward and falling back with a good night’s sleep. For more tips on forming healthy sleep habits, check out our seven tips to create healthy ones.
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
Other resources you may be interested in: