It’s that time of year again! Daylight saving comes around and we all feel jumbled and our schedules mess up. We move the clock forward an hour in spring to gain an extra hour of daylight, and move an hour back in autumn to regain the taken hour.
Regardless of the alleged benefits of daylight saving time, most people lose an hour of sleep, plus it can take weeks to adjust to the change in light. In more extreme cases, a person may even develop a sleep disorder. How can you keep up with the times of DST and get yourself ready for the time change?
Where did daylight saving time begin?
Who’s crazy idea was this anyway? Why was it made? For that, you have to go back to Benjamin Franklin. The American Founding Father has been considered the one who formally proposed the idea of resetting clocks during the summer months. The reset was supposed to conserve energy by taking advantage of the longer days during summer time. The reset was supposed to end at the beginning of winter time as nights conversely grew longer.
The idea failed to catch on until World War I, when Germany observed daylight saving time to preserve much-needed fuel reserves. Not long after, other neighbouring countries, now part of the European Union, followed suit. In 1918, the United States adopted DST.
DST reaches Oceania
New Zealand began to observe daylight saving time in 1927, and although Australians during World War I and World War II experienced daylight saving, the practise was ended after the wars. Australia only formally adopted DST in 1967, with Tasmania leading the way. Some other Australian states followed a few years after.
The curious relationship between Australia and DST
Curiously, only about a third of Australia observes daylight saving. New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory all use DST. Even smaller territories such as Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island use DST.
On the other hand, the Northern Territory and Western Australia have not adopted DST. Queensland used to practice it but abandoned it in 1972. The Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands also do not practice DST.
Daylight saving time in different locations
In local standard time, spring forward starts on the first Sunday of October, 2 AM. The clocks are wound forward an hour to 3 AM. This year, daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday of April—April 4, at 3 AM. Clocks change back to 2 AM.
Now, if you live in NSW or any other of the DST-observing territories, standard time may seem synchronised. Still, due to time zones, each DST-observing location actually begins at different times based on Universal Standard Time.
NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and ACT spring forward from UTC+10:00 to UTC+11:00. South Australia springs forward from UTC+9:30 to UTC+10:30, while Norfolk Island goes from UTC+11:00 to UTC+12:00. In the meantime, Australians in Lord Howe Island go forward only for 30 minutes, from UTC+10:30 to UTC+11:00.
Yeah, we know it’s confusing. Aussies have to deal with a country with 4 different time zones during daylight savings time. But what’s this got to do with our sleep?
Effects of DST on the circadian rhythm
An hour jump forward or back may seem like a small step, but the effect on your circadian rhythm can be huge. Health experts at Monash University warn that the time change results in mood changes.
You may even have problems with your sleep patterns, most likely during spring forward and less during the fall back. How then can you adjust and ease into daylight saving time?
Move back your bedtime
The body’s circadian rhythm corresponds to the 24-hour day-night cycle. Your body responds and activates to daylight while it eases and winds down in darkness. However, because of the time change during DST, you may feel less sleepy even when it’s late at night already.
To cope, you can anticipate the shift and go to sleep about four to five days before spring forward. Sleep earlier in small increments of 15 or 30 minutes. Ease yourself in, and by the time the clock jumps ahead, you are ready to sleep at the proper DST time.
Or sleep a little later
You can also try a different strategy by sleeping an hour later than your usual sleep time. Do this after spring forward. You delay your body clock this way, allowing your circadian rhythm to shift as well. You also gain sleep that will help you sleep deeper during the following nights.
Maintain the same wake up time
Whether you sleep earlier or later, to adjust to DST keep waking up at the time that you usually wake up. Although the desire to sleep in may feel strong, you have to wake up and teach your body its new schedule. You can use an alarm, and you can also make your bedroom as bright as possible come morning by keeping your curtains open; daylight will help your body wake itself up.
Help yourself go to sleep and stay awake
If you have been keeping up to date with our Ecosa sleep blogs, you will have read and learned various ways to help you sleep. You can practise all those tips to get you to sleep earlier if you choose to go that route. Refraining from exercise and caffeinated drinks, taking a warm bath, and relaxing can all help you sleep earlier even though your body is not used to it.
In turn, when you wake up in the morning, encourage your own body by exercising and eating a full breakfast. Both of these serve to wake up your body and mind and give you alertness for the day ahead. Take a little time to bask in the sunlight too.
Save yourself some trouble during DST
Daylight saving time may seem to give you more trouble than save you in some way, but you can make sure that you get enough sleep even with the clock change. Ease yourself in by sleeping earlier or sleeping late. Wake up at your usual time, and help yourself sleep and stay awake. In no time, you will adjust to DST and resume your normal activities with enough energy.