When Daylight Savings Time arrives, you can reset your alarm clock, your computer clock, and your wall clock, but it's not so easy to reset your internal clock. 

The hormone melatonin, secreted by the pineal gland in your brain, regulates your sleep-wake cycle by responding to daylight. When you set the clock back from daylight savings time in winter, and it gets darker earlier, you gain an extra hour in the day. Use it wisely, and you might even gain an extra hour's sleep. But when you turn the clock ahead again in the spring, you lose an hour and you will most certainly lose it as sleep time. It will be harder to get up in the morning and harder to stay alert throughout the next day. And it could take a few days to get over that, especially if you already have trouble getting a good night's sleep.

If you normally fall asleep easily, one way to handle that lost hour is to go to bed an hour earlier than you have been, and get right into the new cycle.  For example, let's say you normally go to bed at 11 p.m. At 10 p.m. on the evening when you will officially turn the clock ahead (technically at 2 o'clock in the morning), simple turn the clock to 11 p.m. and go to bed. If you fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time and get up at your normal time the next day, you won't have lost any sleep and it will be much easier for you to cycle into the new time zone from thereon in.

If it usually takes a while for you to fall asleep at night, or you are just better at making gradual adjustments, prepare for the time change in advance. Starting three or four nights prior to turning the clocks ahead, go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier. You will be easing yourself into a schedule that actually puts you in bed an hour earlier than you are used to. When 10 p.m. rolls around and you change it to 11, you'll be ready to go to bed.

These three steps can help you adjust quickly to daylight savings time by helping you get into bed and fall asleep whatever time works best, and wake up feeling refreshed the next day.

1. Take a warm bath or shower just before bed. The drop in temperature when you come out of the bath will help your body relax, and you'll be better able to fall asleep a little earlier.

2. If the time change has you waking up in the middle of the night, try to go right back to sleep. If, after 20 minutes, you are still awake and not feeling drowsy, get out of bed and do something calming and restful, such as reading or knitting.

3. Get up and out right away in the morning.  Exposure to sunlight early in the day will help your inner clock adjust to the new sleep-wake cycle.



Loyola University Medical Center. "The Dangers of Daylight Saving Time." 10 Mar 2010. Web. 24 Feb 2011

University of Michigan/Sleeps Disorders Center