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Reset your clocks

Extra hour of sleep may leave some feeling groggy

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Good sleep hygiene

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Don't forget

Clocks fall back an hour on November 6, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Friday, November 4, 2016

Even though you will likely gain an hour's sleep by turning your clock back on Sunday morning, don't be surprised if the time change leaves you feeling a bit groggy for a few days.

The reason? Your internal clock.

We all have what's referred to as a biological or internal clock. For the most part, from day to day, our body's internal clock is in sync with the standard clock or time clock. Cues such as light or routine activities that keep us on schedule help keep our internal clock and the standard clock in sync.

When we lose or gain an hour, those two clocks don't match up. Our body is ready to sleep but the clock says it's not quite time yet. The opposite is true in the morning. When the alarm goes off it feels strange because we may be waking up earlier - if we're not getting to sleep later than is advisable, that is. In the morning we want to sleep later but can't. Until your internal clock catches up with the time clock, feeling "off" is completely normal.

Experts say it generally takes about five days for the body to adjust to a time change.

Meantime, here are some tips for coping with Daylight Saving Time:

  • Get ready for it. Go to bed 10, 15, or 20 minutes earlier at least four or five days before, your internal clock will already be ready to adjust to the sudden time change. Don't forget to eat earlier too. The little things will make a big difference in how your body responds to the time change. Yes, this idea even works with children.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. For tips on how to do that, see below.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol, which can negatively impact a good night's sleep. Given DST falls on the weekend, it's possible this may play a factor for some people.
  • Exercise in the evenings, but not too late. Exercise can induce sleep but if you do it later than three or four hours before bed time, it may rev you up.
  • Speak with your teen about their circadian rhythm well in advance of the time change. Offer suggestions about how they can navigate it with minimal disruption. Support them in making changes to their routine.
  • Shift workers need to be very careful about making sure they get the same number of hours of sleep they did before the time change.

Good sleep hygiene

Our society may be chronically sleep deprived (there's a lot to do and we want to be awake for most of it, often with an electronic device in tow). Many people don't even get seven and a half hours of sleep a night. Truth is that every person needs a different amount of sleep but experts suggest between seven and 10 hours of sleep a night. When you wake up, you should feel rested, not sleepy. (If you wake up feeling sleepy, you need more sleep. It's that simple.)

Tips on getting a good night's sleep:

  • Avoid coffee and alcohol.
  • If you must nap, keep it brief. Longer naps can encourage insomnia.
  • In fact, try for one single, consolidated sleep - experts suggest it's preferable.
  • Just sleep in your bedroom - don't watch TV or do other activities.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment, which includes:

    • The right temperature (think like the three bears - not too cold, not too hot, but just right.).
    • Paying attention to noise (less is much better and more calming).
    • Block out light (the right window treatments can make your room dark so you get a better night's sleep).
    • Stick with fixed bedtime and wake-up times, even on weekends.

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