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November Daylight Saving Time Fall Back: Embrace the Extra Hour

Ana Marie Schick Oct 27, 2023

November Daylight Saving Time

As the leaves turn to vibrant hues and the air takes on a crisp chill, we know that autumn is in full swing. But beyond the visual transformation of the season, there's another annual event that's around the corner: the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST). When we "Fall Back," we gain a precious extra hour—an hour that can be used wisely to improve our sleep health and well-being.

In this article, we'll explore how to embrace that additional hour and how to re-adjust your circadian rhythm disturbance.

Before diving into how Fall Back daylight saving can affect your sleep, let's first understand what, why, and when daylight saving time occurs.

What is Daylight Saving?

Daylight saving time is a practice done annually in which clocks are moved forward one hour between March and November to preserve daylight, as the days become darker more quickly in the late fall and winter months than in the spring, summer, and early fall. While most of the United States observes DST, two states don’t observe daylight savings time, Arizona and Hawaii. [1]

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Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

There are a few reasons why we have daylight saving time.

The first reason for Daylight Saving Time is to save energy. During the summer months, the sun rises earlier and sets later. This means that we need less artificial light in the morning and evening. We can reduce electricity use by moving our clocks ahead one hour to get more natural sunlight.

Second, it was put in place to help reduce crime rates. Research has shown that during the evening when there is more daylight, there is a decrease in crime. [2] This could be because people tend to be more active when there is more light outside.

By advancing the clocks forward by an hour, we can gain an extra hour of daylight in the evening and possibly lower the incidences of crime. However, today, research is unclear whether or not that is still true in a post-industrial society.

Some people prefer longer daylight hours in the evening because it gives them more time for outdoor activities like sports, gardening, or taking a leisurely walk after work. Having more daylight in the evening can also help them relax and unwind, positively impacting their mental health and overall well-being.

When to Change Daylight Saving Time

Many often ask, "When does daylight saving time start?" or "What time does it begin?" Although the exact date varies each year, daylight saving time in the United States always starts at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March (Spring Forward) and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November (Fall Back).

Switching to Daylight Saving Time in the dead of night on the weekend is intended to cause minimal disruption to our daily routine. This method of switching does not interfere with work and other daytime activities. However, the biannual change in our circadian rhythm hurts our regular sleep schedule, leading to sleep disturbances and disrupting our internal body clock.

The idea behind switching in the dead of night on the weekend is to cause as little disruption in our lives as possible. This may be the case during daylight hours—by doing it this way. For example, it doesn’t interfere with work. But this biannual disruption of our circadian rhythm wreaks havoc on our regular sleep schedule.

Did You Know: Research shows that people may experience mild effects, including difficulty adjusting to a new wake-up time. [3]

Why Can It Be Hard to Fall Asleep?

It can be challenging to fall asleep during the November "Fall Back" time change, which marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, for a few reasons, including:

Disrupted Circadian Rhythm

Our bodies have an internal biological clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Setting our clocks back an hour can disrupt this natural rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep at the new, earlier bedtime.

Delayed Light Exposure

As we set the clocks back an hour, the days get shorter and darker earlier in the evening. This reduction in exposure to natural sunlight can decrease melatonin production, a hormone that regulates our sleep. The reduction can make it harder to feel sleepy at the adjusted bedtime.

Shift in Daily Routine

Any time change, even by just one hour, can lead to a temporary shift in our daily routines, confusing our bodies and making it challenging to fall asleep at the new bedtime.

How to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time?

Adjusting to daylight saving time can be a different experience for everyone. Some people are lucky enough to adapt within a few days, while others may take a few weeks. As we transition to 'Fall Back' and gain an extra hour in November, here are a few tips that can help make the adjustment process smoother:

Gradually Modify Your Bedtime Routine

To help you prepare for DST, it’s best to adjust your sleep slowly. For example, if you regularly go to bed at 10 p.m. each night, five days before, you can divide that hour into five equal chunks.

On the first day, try going to bed 12 minutes later than usual, and then do the same on the second and third days. By the fourth day, you'll be going to bed 12 minutes later than expected, making it easier to adjust to the time change when it happens.

10 p.m. Bedtime Example

  • 5 Days Before Fall Back: Go to bed at 10:12 p.m.
  • 4 Days Before Fall Back: Go to bed at 10:24 p.m.
  • 3 Days Before Fall Back: Go to bed at 10:36 p.m.
  • 2 Days Before Fall Back: Go to bed at 10:48 p.m.
  • 1 Day Before Fall Back: Go to bed at 11 p.m.

The above schedule shows the recommended bedtime for each day of the week, with a 12-minute later bedtime each consecutive day. This gradual shift can help your body adjust and improve sleep quality leading up to DST

Sleeping Tip: It’s best to go to bed and wake up simultaneously each day, even on the weekends.

Reclaiming Your Time and Sleep

When DST comes to a close, it's as if you've stumbled upon a hidden stash of time. You can choose how to spend it, and the possibilities are endless. Here are some meaningful ways to reclaim that extra hour while also supporting your sleep health:

Reflect and Reconnect:

Consider using this time for reflection and connection. Spend a few moments journaling your thoughts or meditating. Reach out to loved ones you may not have seen in a while. A heartfelt phone call or message during the day can bridge distances and strengthen bonds.

Practice Self-Care:

Indulge in some well-deserved self-care. Run a warm bath, enjoy a spa night, or simply curl up with a good book. Prioritize activities that relax your mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Step Into Nature:

Autumn's beauty is spectacular. Take a brisk walk in the crisp fall air, visit a nearby park, or simply sit on your porch and savor the season's sights, sounds, and scents. Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality.

Benefits of naps

Keep Naps Short

Even though we gain an hour of sleep, some people go to bed later because they aren’t as tired. This can cause them to feel groggy the next day. Taking a short nap during the day may help you feel better. Experts suggest that the nap should not last more than 20 minutes to avoid feeling more tired and groggy when you wake up. [4]

For more information to help you understand more about the ideal length of naps, read "How Long You Should Nap."

Napping Tip: Try not to take a nap too close to bedtime, as it may affect that night's sleep.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

It is advisable to refrain from or restrict the intake of caffeine and alcohol. These substances can have adverse effects on sleep for certain individuals, so limiting their consumption at least 4-6 hours before going to bed is recommended.

As daylight saving time approaches, experts recommend reducing your caffeine intake in the afternoon and gradually decreasing the total amount of caffeine you consume in the days leading up to DST. Avoiding tobacco close to bedtime is also advisable, as it can adversely affect your sleep quality.

Learn more about how alcohol can affect your sleep.

Stay Active

Engaging in regular physical activity can lead to improved sleep quality. To help your body adjust to a time change, it's a good idea to start exercising earlier. Regular exercise during the day can improve the quality of your sleep, whether you prefer walking, running, or riding a bike. [5]

Exercise earlier to help your body adjust to the time change. Start with 30-minute sessions a few times a week and gradually increase duration, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.

Invest in a Bed Cooling System

As we learned, daylight saving time can disrupt sleep for some people. At Chilipad by sleepme, we make it easy to control your bed temperature with the help of our natural, hydro-powered bed cooling systems.

Whether you select the Chilipad Dock Pro or Chilipad Cube sleep system, they allow you to control the temperature of your mattress topper, allowing you to sleep at your preferred temperature.

Learn more about the benefits of sleeping cooler.

Final Thought

As the clock turns back and you gain an extra hour, remember that time is one of life's most precious commodities. Fall Back is an opportunity to embrace the gift of time and make this annual tradition a chance to invest in yourself, your loved ones, and the season's beauty while supporting your sleep health.

Citations / Resources

[1] Barrera, D. (2022, November 5). Change of time in the USA: Which states do not have to change it and why. Retrieved from Diario AS website: View Resource

[2] Doleac, J., & Sanders, N. (n.d.). Under the Cover of Darkness: Using Daylight Saving Time to Measure How Ambient Light Influences Criminal Behavior | Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). View Study

[3] Monk, T. H., & Aplin, L. C. (1980). Spring and autumn daylight saving time changes: studies of adjustment in sleep timings, mood, and efficiency. Ergonomics, 23(2), 167–178. View Study

[4] Module 7. Napping, an Important Fatigue Countermeasure, Nap Duration | NIOSH | CDC. (2020, April 2). View Resource

[5] Kline C. E. (2014). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 8(6), 375–379. View Study