Falling Back to Standard Time and Sleep

The holidays of the fall and winter are more exciting at night: that’s when it’s dark enough to enjoy the full spook of Halloween and when the Christmas lights shine the brightest. That’s why it’s sometimes a good thing that it gets darker earlier in the fall. While you have more time to enjoy the spooky season and the pretty holiday lights, part of that is due to the switch to Standard Time on the first Sunday of November at 2 AM. 

Besides the joys of the holiday and pumpkin-spiced everything, fall also features that night of extra sleep for free, no effort needed. The switch to Standard Time tacks on an extra hour of sleep so the clock can move forward, adjusting typical waking hours to the daylight’s natural fall schedule. It’s definitely something to look forward to, especially if you’ve been rather deficient in sleep lately. 

It’s also nice to wake up to a brighter morning. Not only is that more motivating to get out of bed, daylight actually biologically stimulates your circadian rhythm to help get you up. That’s the main point of switching back to Standard Time, so we aren’t 

However, don’t let this guaranteed extra hour be an excuse to stay up later the night before. That’s a mistake too many folks make. An extra 20 minutes won’t make too much of a difference, but some late-night plans spiral out longer than they’re meant to. One more episode of a viral Netflix show can turn into three. 

Getting that extra hour of sleep doesn’t mean you’ll actually wake up an hour later. Since your internal clock has been wired to a certain schedule for the past eight months, your body’s going to tell you to wake up at the same time you usually do, giving you an hour left before your new waking time. If fewer than seven hours have passed since you fell asleep, go back to sleep! If not, get up and enjoy the extra time — oversleeping can make you even drowsier. 

If you’re working in the office, you might feel some misalignment when your breaks aren’t happening when your body’s used to. If you’re used to eating lunch at 12 pm, you might feel like it at 11 am since that’s the time your body has been associating with lunch for the past 8 months. So make use of that extra hour in the morning to eat a hearty breakfast!

To sleep during the same hours, you’ll technically be going to sleep an hour later than what your body’s used to. This means you might be tired long before your normal bedtime and will have a harder time partying at night. So if you’re headed out for some nighttime fun, you might need a bit of extra caffeine. To slowly adjust your circadian rhythm, you can start going to bed gradually later the weeks before that November day. 

Gaining an extra hour in the fall is much easier than losing an hour in the spring during the revert to Daylight Saving Time. While the extra sleep is still worth celebrating, it’s important to note the disruptions it may bring. And of course, don’t exploit it and stay up too late! Don’t forget to turn the hands back on the clocks that aren’t your phone.