March 15, 2021

Daylight saving time: More fun under the sun … and jet lag?

Kaiser Permanente sleep expert offers simple advice on coping with initial loss of sleep as we reset our clocks.

Contacts: Terry Kanakri



PASADENA, Calif. — As daylight saving time begins, many of us will welcome the opportunity to spend more time outdoors with one extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. But the time change also means we lose one hour of precious sleep.

Numerous studies show that one-third of Americans are sleep deprived and weekend sleep can’t quite make up for our reduced sleep time during the work week. Basically, if you’re already somewhat sleep-deprived, giving up just one hour of shut-eye can negatively impact how you feel and function during the day. It’s as if you are experiencing a mild case of jet lag.

Kendra Becker, MD, a sleep medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, says preparing your body for the time change helps you cope better. The effects on your sleep cycle could have dangerous consequences unless you take certain steps to minimize the impact.

“This temporary loss of sleep can increase your tiredness, worsen your performance of tasks, and studies have shown it could also increase your risk of heart attacks and car accidents,” Dr. Becker cautioned. “Children affected by sleep deprivation also have a harder time in school and potentially worsened behavior.”

Dr. Becker recommends doing the following to help you minimize the potential negative effects of the time change on your health:

  • Ideally, start preparing for the time change a couple of days before it begins.
  • Start going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for up to 3 to 4 days before the time change. Try getting up a little earlier and avoid sleeping in late on days off.
  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning after getting up. Spending some time outdoors helps shift the body’s internal clock earlier.
  • Finally, practice good sleep hygiene: Avoid electronics, late snacks, caffeine, and alcohol before going to bed, which can cause difficulty with sleep at night.

“Losing an hour of sleep may be challenging for many in the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be hard,” Dr. Becker said. “It’s all about embracing the change and taking steps to minimize the impact. After all, the time change will take place whether we want it to or not, so from a health standpoint, we need to adjust and embrace it.”

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.