Set clocks back, adjust your inner timetable

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

That extra hour of sleep we get tonight comes with a price.

With the first Sunday in November, Americans will set their clocks back an hour when 2 a.m. daylight saving time becomes 1 a.m. standard time.

“The good news is, we get an hour of sleep,” said Dr. Alfred Lewy, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. However, “It is hard to adjust to the time change. It can take up to a week.”

Lewy and Ken Weizer, a naturopath with the Providence health system, offered some tips for resetting your personal timekeeper.

Readjusting your sleep cycle can include tweaking your exposure to daylight, said Lewy, an expert in the field of human biological rhythms.

Even though sunset will be an hour earlier, get as much sunlight as you can. Getting outside, even when it’s cloudy, can help.

In one sense, Weizer said, “we’re powered by the sun. We’re big solar panels.”

You don’t have to make the shift in one big move: Adjust your timetable 20 minutes a night for three nights.

There also are some all-purpose recommendations for getting a good night’s sleep.

Keep the room really, really dark, said Weizer, a naturopath with Providence’s Integrative Medicine Program.

“A lot of people worry at night. That’s their worry time,” he said. “Reduce that worry through exercise, or get rid of stress with reading or a hot bath.

“Don’t eat too late,” Weizer said, and he includes late dinners as well as hefty bed-time snacks. “When you go to bed with a full stomach, your body still is very active.”

You won’t be the only person going through this shift, by the way. So when you’re driving, “be aware that other people may be a little discombobulated.”

No matter how well you adjust to the time change, there still will be a price to pay for tonight’s extra hour of sleep. When the nation returns to daylight saving time on March 13, we have to give it back.