Fall Back
November 2, 2018 | by The Polyclinic

By David C. Chang, MD and Meghana Doreswamy, MD

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, we switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. Clocks get set an hour backward, meaning a gain of daylight time in the morning but less evening hours of light. Some people neglect to prepare themselves for this new sleep routine as their bodies will need to adjust to the time change.

Tips to adjust as we "fall back" to Standard Time

The Polyclinic Sleep Medicine specialists, David C. Chang, MD and Meghana Doreswamy, MD recommend the following tips if you find yourself waking up an hour "early":

  • Go to bed when you are sleepy and stick to a set rise time. You cannot force yourself to fall asleep, but you can always get up when you need to. Not sleeping in may help consolidate your sleep at night.
  • Make sure the bedroom is only for going to sleep. It shouldn't be a place to watch TV, work, surf the Internet, or eat. That way your body knows that when you get into bed, it's time to go to sleep.
  • Take a hot shower then get into a cool bed. The drop in your body's temperature after taking a hot shower and entering a cooler room is a process that naturally mimics day and night, and may help guide you to sleep.
  • Create a sleep environment that is quiet, dark, and cool with a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Jot down your to-do list for the next day and put it aside so you feel organized and can avoid racing thoughts that may prevent you from falling and staying asleep.
  • Avoid activities such as watching TV or going online that will hold your interest and keep you engaged. Reading something that you find mindless or listening to music in a dimly lit area may help you feel sleepy.
  • Get outside as exposure to direct sunlight early in the day can help re-set your body's clock to the new schedule. (Yes, we know it's Seattle.) The sunlight will help your body make the adjustment it needs to the new routine.
  • Exercise will help get rid of the off-kilter tiredness you may feel.
  • Do not nap. You're better off sticking to the sleep schedule you need to adhere to going forward.
  • If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
  • Relax, as your body will adjust. You may feel tired but your body and its internal clock will do the work it needs to self-adjust. You should expect that "slightly off" feeling to end within a day or two on the new time schedule.

Need more help with sleep issues?

David C. Chang, MD, (206-860-4545) sees patients at The Polyclinic Broadway and Northgate Plaza. Meghana Doreswamy, MD, (206-860-4554) sees patients at The Polyclinic Madison Center as well as at Northgate Plaza.