It’s time again for (most) to adjust their clocks and “fall back” an hour as Daylight Saving Time (DST) comes to an end at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.
For many it will simply mean getting an extra hour in bed, or having friends show up at the wrong time for brunch.
However, it can be a shock to the system to wake up to a brighter sky and see the day get darker much earlier. Here are a few things to know to make sure the time change goes by without a hitch.
Adjusting your — and your children’s — sleep schedule
You finally have your children on a schedule; awesome. Then the clocks change, and your little angels turn into terrors (Kidding! But really, who needs sleep anyway?).
Block out the earlier natural light if it’s going to disrupt your children’s sleep schedules; or use it to your advantage to help your children wake earlier.
It can also be beneficial to take a gradual approach to adjusting their nap times. Experts recommend shifting nap time by 30 minutes for a few days, and then another 30 to get the tots back to their usual nap time.
The same measures can be used for adults adjusting to the clock change. Gradually shift your bedtime as needed until you’re back on schedule.
“If you sleep poorly, not only does it affect you in being more irritable, having lapses of concentration, you’re more prone of…tending to put on weight and diabetes,” says Dr. John Fleetham, a research in the University of British Columbia’s Sleep Disorders Program.
Traffic accidents have been found to increase around a time change
Studies have found an increase in the number of fatal traffic accidents linked to both the beginning and the end of DST.
“Part of the problem is the whole schedule shifts, and so we find some people have a challenge adapting. It’s a little like having a minor case of jet lag. People are just not functioning at their peak, or might have more risk for, say, traffic accidents, when they’re just not on their game,” says Dr. Maureen Ceresney, professor with UBC Psychiatry.
In one study, researchers linked the spring increase to sleep deprivation. In the fall the increase was linked to an anticipation of a longer day, leading to an increase in impaired and sleepy drivers on the road in the early morning hours.
Other studies have found an increase in traffic incidents involving pedestrians in the evenings after the fall time change.
The changing daylight and darkness can affect your mood
Some people can start feeling seasonal depression as the time changes in the fall and daylight hours get shorter and shorter. It can range from a mild case of the winter blues to a more severe case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). There are signs and symptoms to watch for, and ways to help alleviate those symptoms.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) seasonal depression starts with fatigue and low energy, and symptoms of sadness or depression can set in.
Light therapy is often used for both, either using lamps or when possible, natural light. Exercise is another way to battle the blues.
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is a natural substance sometimes used to alleviate seasonal depression. Antidepressant medication is sometimes recommended for severe cases.
But don’t self diagnose — be sure to seek advice of a medical professional if you’re needing treatment for seasonal depression.
Yes, DST has been shifted in recent years
In 2007 the dates of DST was shifted to line up with our neighbours to the south. Previously DST began on the first Sunday of April and ended the last Sunday in October. Now it begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
Our DST patterns are now in line with those of the U.S., which changed its dates in an effort to reduce energy consumption.
Not all Canadian communities follow Daylight Saving Time
- Areas of Québec east of 63° west longitude remain on Atlantic Standard Time all year round
- Some northwestern Ontario towns stick to Eastern Standard Time all year round
- Most of Saskatchewan uses Central Standard Time all year round
- Nunavut’s Southampton Island remains on Eastern Standard Time all year round
- Areas of northeastern B.C. maintain Mountain Standard Time year-round