Does Daylight Savings Have a Negative Effect on My Sleep?

Fall forward might reveal underlying sleep problems.

Spring forward, fall back, feel tired for days? It happens to many of us—but most people who struggle with this transition have underlying sleep issues to begin with, says Mark Boulos, a neurologist and sleep health expert at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

This fall’s time change happens on Sunday, November 5 and even though you’ll technically gain an hour, some people will feel off their routines in the days that follow. (Then, in the spring, when you lose an hour? You’re even more likely to feel off your game.) Persistent tiredness after resetting those clocks can also be related to the duration of natural light rather than the time change itself—for example, driving to work in the dark when you’re used to having a bit of morning sunlight, or getting home from the office when the sun’s already set.

Try exercising in the morning to increase your energy, using a light box to simulate natural light on darker days, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening and sticking to your usual bedtime. Melatonin may be helpful in this specific (and temporary) scenario, Boulos says. “It’s best used for jet lag and shift work.” While it might help you fall asleep, don’t count on melatonin to help you stay asleep. It’s not a prescription drug and research actually indicates that it has minimal effectiveness.

Next: I Get Enough Sleep—So Why Am I So Tired?

Originally Published in Best Health Canada