Delia Treaster, PhD, CPE, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor
It’s almost time for the end of Daylight Saving Time. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7, we return to Eastern Standard Time. We gain an extra hour as we “fall back,” but despite this advantage, this biannual ritual of changing our clocks can mess with our internal clock.
When we turn the clocks back one hour this weekend, it is as if we crossed one time zone westward. For some, it may take up to a week to become accustomed to waking and sleeping one hour later. You will notice it will be lighter for your commute on Monday morning following the end of Daylight Saving Time. Conversely, it will get darker an hour earlier in the evening, so there may be less daylight for your evening commute.
Research has shown that there are more sleep disruptions in the week following the changing of the clocks. Nighttime restlessness tends to increase, resulting in poor sleep quality.. Morning “larks” are more bothered by the autumn change, while night “owls” fare worse with the spring change.
Whether you’re a “lark” or “owl”, you should expect a few restless nights following the end of Daylight Saving Time and be prepared to make some adjustments. The upcoming “fall back” will give most of us a much-needed chance to catch up on sleep, so take full advantage of that extra hour of zzz’s.
While more light may make your morning commute easier, the opposite – less light – can occur for your evening commute. Because vision may be poorer, give yourself extra following distance on the road. Be alert for cyclists or pedestrians who may be harder to see in dimmer light. Driving a little slower will give you more time to react to unexpected events.
As your body slowly adjusts to the new hours of waking and sleeping, you should be able to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. You’ll become accustomed to the new lighting levels for the morning and evening drives. That is, until next spring, when we again change our clocks and start the readjustment period all over again!