Adjusting to the time change
A UNM sleep medicine specialist says the transition to standard time, when we gain an hour of sleep, can be just as jarring to our system as losing sleep.
Credit: Rebecca Gustaf

Looking forward to that extra hour of sleep this weekend? A UNM sleep medicine specialist says the hour gained during Sunday’s transition from daylight saving time to standard time can be just as jarring to your system as losing sleep.

Frank M. Ralls, MD, an assistant professor in the UNM Department of Internal Medicine, says the brain’s “internal clock,” a tiny region known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, uses cues from the environment, such as daylight, social interactions and food intake to keep the body in synch.

Throughout the day this inner clock controls rhythmic cycles of mental alertness, blood pressure, body temperature and hormone levels.

"'Falling back' an hour with the end of daylight saving time disrupts that internal rhythm and can be a challenge for many of us – especially children," Ralls says.

The good news is we can manage the transition. Ralls offers a few tips to help you make the transition this Sunday:

·      Take your time. Over the few days prior to the end of daylight saving time, go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night and get up 15-30 minutes earlier each day. 

·      Avoid blue light at least an hour earlier each night prior to bedtime. This means avoiding the use of TV, personal electronic devices and video games, which is a great excuse to limit recreational time spent in this way to outside of the bedroom.

·      Once the clock is turned back, immediately lock into the times that you would normally wake up, eat and interact with others. This helps the brain to adjust to the new time schedule.

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1.