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MAR 7, 2024

Adapting to Daylight Saving Time: Navigating the Challenges for a Smoother Transition

Discover the profound effects of Daylight Saving Time on physical and mental health and learn practical strategies to ease the transition and improve wellbeing.

Read time: 4 minutes

This Sunday is Daylights Saving Time again. Unless you’re in Arizona, where DST isn’t observed. Or Europe, where it takes place at the end of March. Or the majority of the world, who don’t mark it at all. Regardless, for most of us, this Sunday we’ll be resetting our clocks and watches (thankfully our devices do it automatically these days) and we’ll be feeling a little disorientated for a week. All while news channels try to figure out why we do this. Farmers? World War I? Something Benjamin Franklin suggested?

But we’re not here today to try to get to the bottom of why we observe Daylight Saving Time or if we should at all - but instead to talk about the effect it has on our bodies and how it can throw our workout schedules completely out the window.

The Impact of DST on Health

As we spring forward or fall back, the adjustment can be detrimental. It throws off our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, leading to a cascade of micro-effects that quickly stack up. In fact, the transition into and out of DST can be challenging for many, with approximately 55% of Americans reporting extreme tiredness following the time change. That’s over half of us struggling to adapt to a sudden shift in our daily routines – like the most minimal jetlag. But the reason behind this tiredness is the disruption of our internal clocks, which affects our sleep patterns, mood, and overall wellbeing.

And these little changes can have serious consequences. Studies have shown a huge 6% rise in fatal traffic accidents immediately following the spring forward. Again, this spike can be attributed to the reduced alertness and slower reaction times caused by the loss of one hour's sleep. Serving as a stark reminder of how deeply intertwined our lives are with our sleep cycles and circadian rhythms.

What’s more, our mood can be significantly impacted by DST; destabilizing our emotional wellbeing, making us feel more irritable, anxious, or depressed.

The combination of feeling more tired, having slower reaction times, being less productive, and finding it harder to focus compounds the issue - making the days following the DST change particularly challenging.

Addressing the Effects of Daylight Savings

So what can we do about it? Well, short of petitioning the government to abolish the whole thing, there’s only a handful of meaningful changes we can undertake to mitigate the impact of DST. But here are some strategies to help ease the transition and counter the adverse effects:

Gradually Adjust Your Schedule

In the week leading up to the DST change, try to gradually adjust your sleeping and waking times. Shifting your routine by just 15 minutes each day can help your body slowly adapt to the new schedule, making the transition less jarring.

Prioritize Deep Sleep

Deep sleep is crucial for our physical and mental recovery. In the days surrounding the DST change, make an effort to engage in activities that promote restful sleep. This includes avoiding the use of electronic devices before bedtime as it overstimulates your mind when you’re trying to unwind.

Mind Your Diet

What you eat and drink before bed can significantly affect your sleep quality. To ensure a better night's sleep during the DST transition, avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Opting for lighter meals and reducing stimulant intake can help prevent sleep disturbances.

Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

These may not sound like major adjustments, but they will ease the change. And, admittedly, while these adjustments are particularly beneficial while the clock goes back (or forward), they’re also practices that can improve your wellbeing all year round. In truth, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep practices are foundational elements of a healthy lifestyle that can enhance your resilience to changes in your routines, including those caused by Daylight Savings.


The effects of Daylight Saving Time on our physical and mental health may sound minor but are, in fact, pretty profound and multifaceted. And while it may offer more daylight during the evening hours, the transition can disrupt our biological clocks, leading to increased fatigue and mood instability. By adopting strategies to ease the transition, such as gradually adjusting our schedules, prioritizing sleep, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we can reduce these adverse effects. But nothing can help you with that one clock or watch that you forgot to manually change. That’s on you, I’m afraid.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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