Worried about adjusting for the start of daylight saving time?
On Sunday 1st October, in the early hours of the morning, daylight saving time begins (unless you live in QLD, WA or NT). At 2am, clocks shift forward an hour to 3am. If you are a good sleeper, you’re probably not reading this anyway, as you will generally be able to go to bed at your usual time (according to the clock), and get to sleep without a problem. However, if you have trouble sleeping, it’s important to have a plan to minimise the impact of this change on your sleep.
What problems might I run in to?
With the clock shifting forward an hour, the most common problems people run in to are:
- Not feeling tired at their normal bed time
- Trouble getting up in the morning
- Being anxious about what will happen with sleep
Shifting the clock forward 1 hour, is the same as shifting your entire schedule 1 hour earlier, or travelling 1 time zone to the east.
Going to bed
With the new time being 1 hour later, it’s likely that you won’t feel sleepy or fall asleep readily if you go to bed at the new time. As such, don’t just go to bed at the same clock time out of habit, instead on Sunday night, aim to stay up an hour later. This has 2 effects:
- Helping you build up a little more sleep debt, making it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep
- Delaying your body clock, so that your internal clock also shifts 1 hour later
Over the next few days, as you begin to feel sleepy earlier, you can shift the time you go to bed earlier. This could be in half hour steps, or if you are more cautious go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day, and in 4 days you will have adjusted to the new time.
Most people can shift their body clock up to 2 hours later each 24 hours without much effort. We see this when we travel across time zones. Going from Melbourne to Perth, a 2 hour later shift, generally takes a only a day or two to adjust to. Interestingly people find travelling to the east or shifting their clocks earlier harder, and can generally only shift 1 hour earlier each 24 hours. So travelling from Perth back to Melbourne takes longer to adjust.
Getting up in the morning
It’s likely that you’ll want to wake later than your usual waking time, as with the time change, this will be an hour later. However, over a few days, this will shift and you’ll find yourself gradually waking earlier and earlier until your body clock adjusts to the new time.
- Not sleep past your usual waking time. Have an alarm set for your usual waking time, so you don’t sleep past your usual time even if you have trouble getting to sleep or have a bad night
- Recognise that your alarm will be going off earlier than your internal clock is expecting for a few days, so you will feel more sluggish in the morning and take a bit longer to get going. You can counter-act that by getting out for a walk first thing in the morning, which will also help to push your body clock back to help adjust to daylight savings time.
Getting anxious about changes to sleep
People who have trouble with sleep can get anxious about changes to their sleep routine. They sometimes have very careful routines around sleep that they put in place to minimise the impact of day to day variations on sleep. When changes to these routines are forced upon them it can result in sleep-related anxiety.
The best way to address sleep-related anxiety, anticipating threats to sleep, is to have a plan and understand how sleep works, so that you can feel confident that although there will be some changes to sleep for a few days, it will quickly settle down and get back to normal.
What about my kids?
Children can take a few days to adjust to the changed time as well. This may mean they will be up later than usual, or have trouble settling at night for a few days. They will respond to the same measures as adults, so use the strategies above to help them shift to the new time with minimal fuss and impact on their or the family’s sleep.
- Have a plan to manage insomnia
- Sleep hygiene measures
- Sleep rules – don’t be too strict
- Daylight savings time dates and time zones for Australia
Need more information on how you can sleep better?
At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.